Monkey explores our relationship throughout history with this most playful and familiar of creatures. As humans, we tend to see monkeys as trivial or comic creatures; indeed our dictionaries define ‘monkeying’ as tampering, interfering and playing mischievous, foolish tricks. Yet it is the very playfulness inherent in our ancient monkey ancestors that underlies our success as a species. Over millions of years, we evolved from those scampering, chattering, intelligent, treetop-living creatures. Their inborn urge to explore became the bedrock of our sophisticated innovations; their love of activity became our industrious pursuit of knowledge. We owe a great debt to our monkey ancestors.
Baboons were revered in the Egypt of the Pharaohs; monkey deities feature prominently in the ancient religions of China and Japan; and in India some still afford sacred status to the langur monkey. Since Darwin our relationship with the monkey has changed, and in some sense become uneasier; our identification with their ‘primitive’ and sometimes destructive behaviours amplified by our knowledge of our own origins.
In Monkey Desmond Morris unpicks human attitudes to our mischievous cousins, and sets out to draw a true picture of these fascinating creatures and their continuing popularity in culture.
1 Sacred Monkeys
2 Tribal Monkeys: Myths and Superstitions
3 Monkeys Despised
4 Lustful Monkeys
5 Monkeys Enjoyed
6 Monkeys Exploited
7 Monkey Quotations
8 Monkeys and Artists
9 Monkeys as Animals
10 Unusual Monkeys
11 Rare Monkeys
12 Newly Discovered Monkeys
13 Intelligent Monkeys
Appendix 1: Classification
Appendix 2: Monkeys in the Language
Associations and Websites
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Desmond Morris is a well-known and critically acclaimed writer and broadcaster. His many books include The Naked Ape (1967), The Human Zoo (1969) and The Human Animal (1994). He has also authored Owl , Leopard and Bison for the Reaktion Animal series. He has contributed to numerous natural history and scientific publications.