cover image Planet Ape

Planet Ape

Desmond Morris. Firefly Books, $49.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-55407-566-9

40 years after British zoo curator Morris published The Naked Ape, a controversial 1967 bestseller (primatology's first), field researchers have generated thousands of hours of observations regarding gorillas, chimps, bonobos, gibbons and orangutans, and a bounty of comparative data regarding social behaviors, family groups, reproductive strategies and food gathering. Morris and Parker fill a huge gap on the primatology bookshelf by compiling this data into a practical, fully illustrated, encyclopedic book for non-specialists. Extended sections on anatomy, diet, communication behaviors, patterns of social life, sex and reproduction, and developmental stages each cover habits of different species and, where applicable, of humans. Copious images includes photos and graphs illustrating comparative anatomy and physiology, postures, internal structure and more; two-page spreads on dietary needs and the daily feeding routine of an orangutan are particularly well-executed. Morris and Parker, a senior fellow at the Zoological Society of London, also describe numerous threats to the survival of non-human primates, and provide conservation agency contact information so readers can get involved. With few exceptions (some dark backgrounds render text hard to read) this is a beautifully organized and visually gratifying guide, perfect for amateur and budding primatologists.