With fascinating facts and his unparalleled readability, Diamond intended his book to improve the world that today’s young people will inherit. Triangle Square’s The Third Chimpanzee for Young People is a book for future generation and the future they’ll help build.
About the Author
REBECCA STEFOFF specializes in writing nonfiction for young readers, with a focus on scientific, historical, and literary subjects. Her adaptations include A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and A Different Mirror for Young People by Ronald T. Takaki.
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How This Book Came to Be
My own interests and background shaped this book. As a child, I wanted to be a doctor. By my last year in college, that goal had gently changed, and I wanted to become a medical researcher. I trained in physiology, which is the study of how living systems function, from cells to animals. Afterward I went on to teach and do research at the University of California Medical School in Los Angeles.
But I had other interests as well. Birdwatching had attracted me since the age of seven, and I had also been lucky to attend a school that let me plunge into languages and history. I did not like the idea of spending the rest of my life on physiology alone. Then I had the chance to spend a summer in the highlands of New Guinea, a large tropical island north of Australia. the purpose of the trip was to measure how successfully birds were nesting. That project collapsed when i was unable to locate even a single bird’s nest in the jungle, but the trip fed my thirst for adventure and birdwatching in one of the wildest remaining parts of the world.
After that first trip to New Guinea, I developed a second career, focused on birds, evolution, and biogeography. I’ve returned to New Guinea and the neighboring Pacific Islands many times to pursue my bird research. As I saw human activity destroying the forests and birds I loved, I became involved in conservation, helping governments design national parks to protect ecosystems and plant and animal species.
Finally, it was hard to study the evolution and extinction of birds without wanting to understand the evolution and possible extinction of the most interesting species of all, the species that includes you, me, and everyone on earth—Homo sapiens, the modern human. this book was the result. It begins with a look at our origins several million years ago. It ends with some thoughts about our future, and about ways we can learn from our past.
Table of ContentsIntroduction: what makes us human?
part one: just another big mammal
chapter 1: a tale of three chimps
chapter 2: the great leap forward
part two: a strange life cycle
chapter 3: human sexuality
chapter 4: the origin of human races
chapter 5: why do we grow old and die?
part three: uniquely human
chapter 6: the mystery of language
chapter 7: animal origins of art
chapter 8: agriculture, for better and worse
chapter 9: why do we smoke, drink, and use dangerous drugs?
chapter 10: alone in a crowded universe
part four: world conquerors
chapter 11: the last first contacts
chapter 12: accidental conquerors
chapter 13: in black and white
part five: reversing our progress overnight
chapter 14: the golden age that never was
chapter 15: blitzkrieg and thanksgiving in the new world
chapter 16: the second cloud
Afterword : nothing learned, everything forgotten?
Photograph and Illustration Credits
About the Authors