Desmond Morris

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Desmond John Morris, born 24 January 1928 in Purton, north Wiltshire,[1] is a British zoologist and ethologist, also known as a surrealist painter, television presenter and popular author.



Morris was educated at Dauntsey's School, an independent school in West Lavington, Wiltshire. After military service, he attended the University of Birmingham where he graduated in 1951 with a First Class Honours Degree in Zoology. In 1954, he was awarded a D.Phil. from Oxford University for his thesis on the Reproductive Behaviour of the Ten-spined Stickleback, supervised by Nobel Laureate Niko Tinbergen. He was employed by the Zoological Society of London as Curator of Mammals at the London Zoo, eventually leaving in 1966 in frustration about stagnation at the zoo.

In the media

Morris first came to public attention in the 1950s as a presenter of the ITV television programme Zoo Time,[2] but achieved worldwide fame in 1967 with his book The Naked Ape.[3] The book is an unabashed look at the human species, notable for its focus on humanity's animal-like qualities and our similarity with apes, and for explaining human behaviour as largely evolved to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer. Reprinted many times and in many languages, it continues to be a best-seller.

His later studies, books and television shows have continued this focus on human behaviour, explained from a bluntly zoological point of view. This approach itself, and his specific conclusions, have often attracted controversy.[citation needed] His book The Soccer Tribe published in 1981 was partly based on research carried out during his directorship of Oxford United, including as it did analysis of the 'tribal' chanting of the club's fans during matches at the club's Manor Ground.

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