Join zoologist Desmond Morris in this fascinating documentary series as he goes out into the field and studies, in its natural habitat, the most interesting and odd animal of all: humans.
Six-part series shows that, however much we may think we have evolved from our animal ancestors, our instincts and behaviour are still rooted in our animal past. By denying this inheritance we are in danger of destroying everything we have strived so hard to create.
Despite the different skin colours, beliefs and rituals to be found in the 5000 million human beings alive today, we actually all share an almost identical genetic heritage.
In this portrait of the human species, Desmond Morris takes us right to the centre of human existence and explores all aspects of human life and behaviour. From the way we rear our young to the common use of certain facial gestures, Morris covers a fascinating variety of subjects: how our hunting instincts have been channelled into an extraordinary range of sporting activities; how the modern art world can trace its roots back to an early primate picking up a stone resembling a face; how different courtship rituals across the world reflect the universal emotion of love.
Desmond Morris also looks at some of the damaging consequences that can be seen when we try to deny our animal heritage: how territorial fights erupt when the tribal systems within our overcrowded cities break down, and how human relationships disintegrate when natural social or sexual patterns change.
A BBC Production in association with The Discovery Channel
Part 1: The Language of the Body
In this first episode, Morris takes us through a world-wide tour of cultural body language differences, emphasizing the well known awkward situations they can produce for those unaware of such differences. More importantly, however, Morris digs deeper and finds that beyond the superficial differences there are biological similarities that turn out to be virtually universal, a product of our evolutionary history, so much so that we share many of them with our closest cousins: chimpanzees.
Part 2: The Hunting Ape
Believe it or not, our eating habits express a lot about our identity as a species, and reveal our unique evolutionary history. Join zoologist Desmond Morris in this second part of The Human Animal documentary series as he traces back our ancestry from arboreal gatherers to bipedal hunters. Learn how so many of the habits we take for granted as simply aesthetic and non-functional, even those seemingly separate from feeding, reveal many of the instincts that our ancestors acquired long ago due to powerful evolutionary selection pressures, and the implications of many of those adaptations in our modern world.
Part 3: The Human Zoo
Continuing his fascinating study of the human species, Desmond Morris explores the evolutionary and psychological implications of modern city-living, a kind of environment to which our genes have not yet had time to adapt. In the process, and despite seemingly vast cultural differences, Morris reveals a very odd species replete with arbitrary beliefs, rituals and traditions that work as mechanisms of social cohesion and group identity.
Part 4: The Biology of Love
Episode four, The Biology of Love, explores the profound impact standing upright had on our sexuality and how this simple anatomic fact affect all our lives today. Morris analyzes how patterns of behaviour and signals of health and fertility evolved to ensure pair-bonding and genetic survival, ultimately underpinning many of our romantic quests and decisions. From the stages of courtship to the aesthetics of physical beauty, the segment looks at the very foundations of our sexual behavior.
Part 5: The Immortal Genes
Desmond Morris looks at the natural history of the human parent and child. Why do homo sapiens devote more time to raising their young than any other animal? What makes parents sacrifice so much for their children, and why, once the offspring have been raised, don’t humans simply die off as other creatures do? Desmond reveals how children offer a way of overcoming death itself.
Part 6: Beyond Survival
The final part of the series, Beyond Survival, addresses the question we’ve all been asking ourselves since the very first rub with the program’s premise: Are we really merely another animal? And, if so, why do we have things like art, music, literature and philosophy? Morris concludes by exploring the deepest humanness of humans — what we do and who we become once we have our basic needs for food and shelter met. The episode explores concepts like creativity, artistic progression, play and symbolic thinking.