Are humans the only creatures who love, laugh, cry, possess morals, and wage war? In The Beast Within, scientific researcher and ethologist Jessica Serra upends the assumptions that underpin our very human hypothesis that we possess a superior place in the hierarchy of organisms on Earth. How did we come to think of our animality as standing in opposition to our humanity – and does this reasoning have a scientific basis?
Through the fascinating discoveries made by ethologists, anthropologists, and archaeologists, Serra deciphers our behaviours in light of their animal roots and demystifies ideas about how different animals are from humans. She compares human behaviours with those exhibited by other species in chapters spanning topics as varied as sex, morality, emotions, intelligence, and family. Exploring the evolution of various animal species, as well as the evolution of historical ideas about humanity and animality, Serra theorizes that human behaviours and motivations may hold more in common with those of animals than we think. These explorations of scientific findings encourage us to reconsider how much we have truly removed ourselves from "the beast within".
Jessica Serra is a scientific researcher, writer, editor, and consultant. She is the author of The Secret Life of Cats, which became the basis for popular French television show, La Vie Secrète des Chats on BBC Worldwide.
Translator and book editor Alison Duncan earned her master of science in translation from New York University and her bachelor of arts in French and Francophone studies from Vassar College. She is the translator of Marvelous Microfossils: Creators, Timekeepers, Architects.