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Desmond Morris

Desmond Morris (born 24 January 1928 in the village of Purton, UK) is most famous for his work as a zoologist and ethologist. He was educated at Dauntseys School, West Lavington, Wiltshire and first came to public attention in the 1950s as a presenter of the ITV television programme Zoo Time. His studies focus on animal and human behaviour, explained from a zoological point of view. He has written a number of books and produced a number of television shows. His examination of humans from a bluntly zoological point of view has attracted controversy.

In addition to his scientific pursuits, he is an artist in the Surrealist tradition. Morris has contributed significantly to the British Surrealist movement. He had his first solo show in 1948, and has shown regularly ever since.

Painting by Congo.

In 1951, having obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Zoology from Birmingham University, he began research for his doctorate in animal behaviour at Oxford. In 1954, he was awarded a D.Phil. from Oxford University for his doctoral thesis on the Reproductive Behaviour of the Ten-spined Stickleback, supervised by Niko Tinbergen.

In 1957, he curated an exhibition of chimpanzee paintings and drawings at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, including paintings by a young chimpanzee called Congo.

Selected books

  • The Mammals A Guide to the Living Species (1965) – a comprehensive listing of all mammal genera, all non-rodent non-bat species, and additional information on select species.
  • The Naked Ape (1967) – an unabashed look at the human species. The book is notable for its focus on humanity's animal-like qualities and our similarity with apes. Reprinted many times and in many languages, it continues to be a best-seller.
  • The Human Zoo (1969) – a continuation of the previous book, analyzing human behaviour in big modern societies and their resemblance to animal behaviour in captivity.
  • Intimate Behaviour (1971) – this book examines and analyzes any physical contact acted out by human animals. From clapping, to having a hair cut, to hand jive, to patting on the back, to hugging, to babe suckling, to copulation...
  • Manwatching (1977) reprinted as Peoplewatching (2002)
  • Gestures: Their Origin and Distribution (1979)
  • Animal Days (1979) - Autobiographical
  • Soccer Tribe (1981)
  • Pocket Guide to Manwatching (1982)
  • Inrock (1983)
  • Bodywatching – A Field Guide to the Human Species (1985) – Hundreds of photos analyzing the human body from hair down to the feet.
  • Catwatching (1986) – a study of one of the most popular of household pets across the centuries.
  • Dogwatching (1986) – an in-depth study of "man's best friend".
  • Animalwatching (1990)
  • Babywatching (1991)
  • The Human Animal (1994)
  • The Naked Eye (2001)
  • Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of over 1000 Dog Breeds (2001)
  • Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language (2002)
  • The Naked Woman (2004)
  • Linguaggio muto, Di Renzo Editore, (Roma), 2004

External links

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