cover image Bodywatching


Desmond Morris. Random House Value Publishing, $9.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-55814-0

At any one time, 90% of the hairs on your head are growing while 10% are inactive, with each hair obeying its own independent life cycle. Shakespeare wore a single earring in one ear, following popular custom. The nose is a voice resonator and bony shield to protect the eyes, in addition to being an organ of smell and taste. These are some of the facts found in this head-to-toe scrutiny of the human body by the author of The Naked Ape. Twenty chapters scan the brow, eyes, mouth, shoulders, breasts, genitals, legs, feet and so forth. This engrossing survey reflects the biases of the ""naked ape'' school of anthropology criticized by many scientists. Morris argues that baldness is a display signal indicating male dominance ``because it is linked with high levels of sex hormone . . . and increases with advancing age.'' He claims that the female buttocks is the ``probable'' source of the valentine symbol. Questionable theories like these, often presented as fact, are sprinkled throughout. The 450 color and black-and-white photographs are fun. November 1