Monday, 24 January 2011
Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an indefatigable old zoologist called Desmond Morris
Desmond Morris, zoologist, ethologist, surrealist painter, television presenter and popular author is 83 today. Apparently, an ethologist studies the 'science of races'.
Desmond has crammed many things into those years. He :
* was born the son of an author of children's fiction and the great-grandson of William Morris, who was the founder of Britain's first penny paper, the 'Swindon Advertiser' and also a keen amateur naturalist.
* during his childhood, developed a strong interests in writing and in natural history.
* went to an independent school in Wiltshire, did military service, studied zoology at the University of Birmingham and then went on to get a doctorate at Oxford for his thesis on 'The Reproductive Behaviour of the Ten-spined Stickleback'.
* worked as 'Curator of Mammals' at the London Zoo, until 1966 and came to public attention in the 1950s as a presenter of the ITV television programme 'Zoo Time'.
* achieved worldwide fame in 1967 with his book 'The Naked Ape' focussing on humanity's animal-like qualities and similarities with apes and explained human behaviour as largely evolved to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer and at the last count, the book had been translated into 23 languages and had sold 10 million copies.
* published 'The Soccer Tribe' in 1981 which was partly based on research carried out during his directorship of 'Oxford United Football Club' which included analysis of the 'tribal' chanting of the Club's fans during matches.
* is a surrealist artist whose work contributed to the British Surrealist Movement and was the Executive Director of the 'Institute of Contemporary Arts' in London from 1967-68.
* oversaw the creation of the gestural and body language for the Paleolithic human characters in the 1981 film 'Quest for Fire'.
* has been responsible for the authorship of almost 50 books including 'The Amazing Baby' in 2008 :
Here he discusses the 'The Aquatic Ape' hypothesis :