Desmond Morris Quotes

Who is Desmond Morris?

English zoologist Desmond Morris is a popular author in human sociobiology known for his 1967 book 'The Naked Ape'.

Born January 24, 1928

Books by Desmond Morris

Best 40 Quotes by Desmond Morris | Page 1 of 2

“A belief in the validity of the acquisition of knowledge and a scientific understanding of the world we live in, the creation and appreciation of aesthetic phenomena in all their many forms, and the broadening and deepening of our range of experiences in day-to-day living, is rapidly becoming the 'religion' of our time.”

“Aquatic animals suffer from the disadvantage that they cannot scream when in pain, so we find it hard to gauge the degree of their agony. If fish could scream, angling purely for sport would be outlawed without delay.”

“I discovered long ago that, if you write a book about cats or dogs, everybody loves you, but if you dare to write a book about human beings, all hell breaks loose. It is impossible to write an uncensored, honest book about human behaviour without offending at least part of your audience. If you feel you have a basic truth to tell, then you must tell it and be prepared to suffer the inevitable criticisms.”

“I think like the species I am studying, whatever it is. If I am watching a lizard, I become the lizard. Gazing at the water at a pike, I become the pike.”

“If we did not carry in us the basic biological urge to co-operate with our fellow men, we would never have survived as a species.”

“Life is like a very short visit to a toy shop between birth and death.”

“My writing is always done with my readers in mind. I never write for my own amusement. I always try to put across an idea that I feel is important, in the most easily readable form I can manage. This has annoyed some of my academic colleagues, who feel that I am oversimplifying my subject, but I argue that at least my writings are widely read, while theirs stay firmly within the confines of their academic ivory towers. And I always work with one special rule in mind: simplification without distortion. This is, in fact, much harder than the usual self-indulgent academic writing.”

“People who keep dogs live longer on average than those who do not. This is not some kind of pro-canine campaigning fantasy. It is a simple medical fact that the calming influence of the company of a friendly pet animal reduces blood pressure and therefore the risk of heart attack.”

“The roots of our Soccer Tribe lie deep in our primeval past.”

“We read off the many signals that our companions' clothes transmit to us in every social encounter. In this way, clothing is as much a part of human body language as gestures, facial expressions and postures.Even those people who insist that they despise attention to clothing, and dress as casually as possible, are making quite specific comments on their social roles and their attitudes towards the culture in which they live.”

“Biologically speaking, if something bites you, it is more likely to be female.”

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Catwatching Quotes

“Artists like cats; soldiers like dogs.”


Manwatching Quotes

“A true bond of friendship is usually only possible between people of roughly equal status. This equality is demonstrated in many indirect ways, but it is reinforced in face-to-face encounters by a matching of the posture of relaxation or alertness.”


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“It must be stressed that there is nothing insulting about looking at people as animals. We are animals, after all. H*mo sapiens is a species of primate, a biological phenomenon dominated by biological rules, like any other species. Human nature is no more than one particular kind of animal nature. Agreed, the human species is an extraordinary animal; but all other species are also extraordinary animals, each in their own way, and the scientific man-watcher can bring many fresh insights to the study of human affairs if he can retain this basic attitude of evolutionary humility.”


“No matter how old we become, we can still call them 'Holy Mother' and 'Father' and put a child-like trust in them.”


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“The deception study found that men use several tactics to deceive women about their intentions. Men pretend to be interested in starting a relationship when they are not really interested and act as if they care about a woman even though they really do not. Most men are fully aware that feigning commitment is an effective tactic for short-term sexual attraction, and they admit to deceiving women by this means. Men using Tinder, Hinge, and other dating apps admit that they pretend to be open to being in a relationship even though their real interest lies in racking up large numbers of short-term sexual conquests.”

The Evolution of Desire

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The Human Animal Quotes

“We may prefer to think of ourselves as fallen angels, but in reality we are rising apes.”

The Human Animal

The Human Zoo Quotes

“In little more than a single century from 1820 to 1945, no less than fifty-nine million human animals were killed in inter-group clashes of one sort or another. We describe these killings as men behaving like animals, but if we could find a wild animal that showed signs of acting this way, it would be more precise to describe it as behaving like men.”

The Human Zoo

“The word ‘love’ is, in fact, the way we commonly describe the emotional feelings that accompany the imprinting process.”

The Human Zoo

“The zoo animal in a cage exhibits all these abnormalities that we know so well from our human companions. Clearly, then, the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.”

The Human Zoo

The Naked Ape Quotes

“Clearly, the naked ape is the sexiest primate alive. To find the reason for this we have to look back again at his origins. What happened? First, he had to hunt if he was to survive. Second, he had to have a better brain to make up for his poor hunting body. Third, he had to have a longer childhood to grow the bigger brain and to educate it. Fourth, the females had to stay put and mind the babies while the males went hunting. Fifth, the males had to cooperate with one another on the hunt. Sixth, they had to stand up straight and use weapons for the hunt to succeed. I am not implying that these changes happened in that order; on the contrary they undoubtedly all developed gradually at the same time, each modification helping the others along. I am simply enumerating the six basic, major changes that took place as the hunting ape evolved. Inherent in these changes there are, I believe, all the ingredients necessary to make up our present sexual complexity.”

The Naked Ape

“From studies carried out on other species in a state of experimental overpopulation, we know that there comes a time when the increase in population density reaches an extreme point in which the entire social structure is destroyed.”

The Naked Ape

“I am a zoologist and the naked ape is an animal. He is therefore fair game for my pen and I refuse to avoid him any longer simply because some of his behaviour patterns are rather complex and impressive. My excuse is that, in becoming so erudite, H*mo sapiens has remained a naked ape nevertheless; in acquiring lofty new motives, he has lost none of the early old ones. This is frequently a cause of some embarrassment to him, but his old impulses have been with him for millions of years, his new ones only a few thousand at the most—and there is no hope of quickly shrugging off the accumulated genetic legacy of his whole evolutionary past. He would be a far less worried and more fulfilled animal if only he would face up to this fact. Perhaps this is where the zoologist can help.”

The Naked Ape

“I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape.”

The Naked Ape

“It could be said that the advance of civilization has not so much moulded modern sexual behaviour, as that sexual behaviour has moulded the shape of civilization.”

The Naked Ape

“It is interesting that amongst children of preschool age, the more intelligent ones tend to sleep less than the dull ones. After the age of seven this relationship is reversed, the more intelligent schoolchildren sleeping more than the dull ones.”

The Naked Ape

“Looking back now on the whole sexual scene we can see that our species has remained much more loyal to its basic biological urges than we might at first imagine. Its primate sexual system with carnivore modifications has survived all the fantastic technological advances remarkably well.”

The Naked Ape

“Monks, nuns, long-term spinsters and bachelors and permanent homosexuals are all, in a reproductive sense, aberrant. Society has bred them, but they have failed to return the compliment.”

The Naked Ape

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“Sexual behavior in our species goes through three characteristic phases: pair formation, precopulatory activity, and copulation, usually but not always in that order. The pair-formation stage, usually referred to as courtship, is remarkably prolonged by animal standards.”

The Naked Ape

“She only ovulates at one point during the cycle, so that mating at all other times can have no procreative function. The vast bulk of copulation in our species is obviously concerned, not with producing offspring, but with cementing the pair-bond by providing mutual rewards for the sexual partners. The repeated attainment of sexual consummation for a mated pair is clearly, then, not some kind of sophisticated, decadent outgrowth of modern civilization, but a deep-rooted, biologically based, and evolutionarily sound tendency of our species.”

The Naked Ape

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“The end result of the adoption of permaculture strategies in any country or region will be to dramatically reduce the area of the agricultural environment needed by the households and the settlements of people, and to release much of the landscape for the sole use of wildlife and for re-occupation by endemic flora.”

Permaculture: A Designers' Manual

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