The Third Chimpanzee Book Summary - The Third Chimpanzee Book explained in key points
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The Third Chimpanzee summary

Jared Diamond

The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

4.4 (186 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond explores the evolution and behavior of humans and our close primate relatives. It examines the ecological and cultural factors that have shaped our species, and the implications for our future survival and flourishing on planet Earth.

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    The Third Chimpanzee
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    Science shows that humans are more genetically similar to other primates than previously thought.

    The similarities between humans and other primates aren’t hard to spot. But exactly how genetically similar are we to our wild cousins, and which ones are our closest relatives?

    Scientists are now able to look at the human genome and calculate exactly how alike humans and apes are. The results are pretty striking. We share 96.4 percent of our genes with orangutans, 97.7 percent with gorillas and an incredible 98.6 percent with chimpanzees.

    Effectively, that means that a mere 1.4 percent of our DNA distinguishes us from chimpanzees. Of that percentage, only a small amount contains the genetic tools that helped us develop those attributes we consider uniquely human, such as language, art and technology.

    In fact, we're so genetically close to chimps that some scientists even consider us part of the same family.

    In most encyclopedias, you'll find humans and chimpanzees classed in the same order, the Primates, and the same superfamily, the Hominoidea, but in separate families: the Hominidae for humans and Pongidae for chimpanzees.

    However, one school of taxonomy – known as the cladistics – arranges species based on relative genetic distance. Using this method, humans and chimps are part of not only the same family, but even the same genus.

    They conceive of not one but three separate species within the Homo genus: Homo troglodytes, the common chimpanzee; Homo paniscus, the bonobo; and us, Homo sapiens.

    Being in the same genus means the species are very closely related, so much so that sometimes they might be distinguishable only to experts. Take the willow warblers and the chiffchaffs as an example. These European birds share 97.7 percent of the same DNA and look virtually identical. But they're less closely related to each other than humans are to chimps.

    So we’re a lot like our chimp cousins – but it’s our few different characteristics, as well as art, technology and language, that really mark our species out.

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    What is The Third Chimpanzee about?

    In The Third Chimpanzee (1991), Jared Diamond explores the evolution of Homo sapiens, which started out like any other animal and gradually became a unique creature capable of producing speech, making art and inventing technology. The book reveals some extraordinary insights about the nature of human beings.

    The Third Chimpanzee Review

    The Third Chimpanzee (1991) by Jared Diamond is a thought-provoking exploration of what separates humans from our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With compelling evidence and clear explanations, Diamond delves into the origins of human language, art, and what it means to be human.
    • By examining our evolutionary history and the impact we've had on the planet, the book raises fascinating questions about our future as a species.
    • The book's engaging storytelling and wide range of topics, from genetics to culture, keep readers captivated throughout, ensuring that it's anything but boring.

    Best quote from The Third Chimpanzee

    As long as the female has it and the male likes it, sexual selection could lead to any arbitrary trait, just as long as it does not impair survival too much

    —Jared Diamond
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    Who should read The Third Chimpanzee?

    • Students of history and anthropology
    • People interested in human evolution
    • Readers querying the essence of humankind

    About the Author

    Jared Diamond is an exemplary scholar. His career has taken him through several fields and he is now professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s also published a series of popular science books, including the best-selling Guns Germs and Steel.

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    The Third Chimpanzee FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Third Chimpanzee?

    The main message of The Third Chimpanzee explores the origins of human behavior and the key factors that have shaped our species.

    How long does it take to read The Third Chimpanzee?

    The reading time for The Third Chimpanzee varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Third Chimpanzee a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Third Chimpanzee is worth reading for its fascinating insights into human evolution and its impact on current issues. It offers a fresh perspective that is thought-provoking.

    Who is the author of The Third Chimpanzee?

    The author of The Third Chimpanzee is Jared Diamond.