320 pages, 15 photos, illustrations
In the fall of 2005, a band of researchers cracked the code of the chimpanzee genome and provided a startling new window into the differences between humans and our closest primate cousins. For the past several years, acclaimed Science reporter Jon Cohen has been following the DNA hunt, as well as eye-opening new studies in ape communication, human evolution, disease, diet, and more.
In "Almost Chimpanzee", Cohen invites us on a captivating scientific journey, taking us behind the scenes in cutting-edge genetics labs, rain forests in Uganda, sanctuaries in Iowa, experimental enclaves in Japan, even the Detroit Zoo. Along the way, he ferries fresh chimp sperm for a time-sensitive analysis, gets greeted by pant-hoots and chimp feces, and investigates an audacious attempt to breed a "humanzee." Cohen offers a fresh and often frankly humorous insider's tour of the latest research, which promises to lead to everything from insights about the unique ways our bodies work to shedding light on stubborn human-only problems, ranging from infertility and asthma to speech disorders.
[An] engrossing new book . . .like something out of Beckett, or maybe the Marx Brothers. . .deeply skeptical.
- The New York Times Book Review
"How are we different from chimps? That's the question that Cohen ('Shots in the Dark') sets out to answer in his absorbing account of current chimpanzee research. Too often, Cohen argues, scientists have focused on the similarity between the two species, when it is in fact an understanding of our differences that can reveal "what, exactly, it means to be human." Cohen's survey spans investigations into the chimp genome, brain, and physiognomy, with a fascinating chapter on chimp sex (one captive female chimp was observed "flipping through" Playgirl, "sometimes using a vacuum cleaner hose for stimulation") and a colorful portrait of Richard Lynch Garner, a 19th-century adventurer who lived in a cage in a jungle for 112 days, studying and recording chimp and gorilla langu."
- Jennifer Schuessler, From Publishers Weekly
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