Desmond Morris

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Desmond Morris
Desmond Morris (1969).jpg
Morris in 1969
Born
Desmond John Morris

(1928-01-24) 24 January 1928 (age 93)
Purton, Wiltshire, England
NationalityBritish
Alma mater
Known for The Naked Ape (1967)
Scientific career
Thesis The reproductive behaviour of the ten-spined stickleback  (1954)
Doctoral advisor Niko Tinbergen

Desmond John Morris FLS hon. caus. (born 24 January 1928) is an English zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology. He is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape , and for his television programmes such as Zoo Time.

Contents

Early life

Morris was born in Purton, Wiltshire, to Marjorie (née Hunt) and children's fiction author Harry Morris. In 1933, the Morrises moved to Swindon where Desmond developed an interest in natural history and writing. He was educated at Dauntsey's School, a boarding school in Wiltshire. [1]

In 1946, he joined the British Army for two years of national service, becoming a lecturer in fine arts at the Chiseldon Army College. After being demobilised in 1948, he held his first one-man show of his own paintings at the Swindon Arts Centre, and studied zoology at the University of Birmingham. In 1950 he held a surrealist art exhibition with Joan Miró at the London Gallery. He held many other exhibitions in later years. [1] Also in 1950, Desmond Morris wrote and directed two surrealist films, Time Flower and The Butterfly and the Pin. In 1951 he began a doctorate at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford in animal behaviour. [1] In 1954, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy for his work on the reproductive behaviour of the ten-spined stickleback [2]

Career

Morris stayed at Oxford, researching the reproductive behaviour of birds. In 1956 he moved to London as Head of the Granada TV and Film Unit for the Zoological Society of London, and studied the picture-making abilities of apes. [1] The work included creating programmes for film and television on animal behaviour and other zoology topics. He hosted Granada TV's weekly Zoo Time programme until 1959, scripting and hosting 500 programmes, and 100 episodes of the show Life in the Animal World for BBC2. [1] In 1957 he organised an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, showing paintings and drawings composed by common chimpanzees. In 1958 he co-organised an exhibition, The Lost Image, which compared pictures by infants, human adults, and apes, at the Royal Festival Hall in London. In 1959 he left Zoo Time to become the Zoological Society's Curator of Mammals. [1] In 1964, he delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on Animal Behaviour. In 1967 he spent a year as executive director of the London Institute of Contemporary Arts. [1]

Morris's books include The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal , [3] published in 1967. The book sold well enough for Morris to move to Malta in 1968 to write a sequel and other books. In 1973 he returned to Oxford to work for the ethologist Niko Tinbergen. [4] From 1973 to 1981, Morris was a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. [5] In 1979 he undertook a television series for Thames TV, The Human Race, followed in 1982 by Man Watching in Japan, The Animals Road Show in 1986 and then several other series. [1] National Life Stories conducted an oral history interview (C1672/16) with Desmond Morris in 2015 for its Science and Religion collection held by the British Library. [6]

Personal life

When Morris was 14, his father was killed whilst serving in the armed forces, causing Morris to drift towards surrealism. [7] His grandfather William Morris, an enthusiastic Victorian naturalist and founder of the Swindon local newspaper, [1] greatly influenced him during his time living in Swindon.

In July 1952, Morris married Ramona Baulch; they had one son, Jason. [1] In 1978, Morris was elected Vice-Chairman of Oxford United F.C.. [2]

Morris lived in the same house in North Oxford as the 19th-century lexicographer James Murray who worked on the Oxford English Dictionary . [8] He has exhibited at the Taurus Gallery in North Parade, Oxford, close to where he lived. [9] Since the death of his wife in 2018 he lives with his son and family in Ireland. [10]

Bibliography

Books

Book reviews

YearReview articleWork(s) reviewed
1994"CATS". The New York Review of Books. 41 (18): 16–17. 3 November 1994. Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall (1994). The tribe of tiger : cats and their culture . Simon and Schuster.

Filmography

Criticism

Some of Morris's theories have been criticized as untestable. For instance, geneticist Adam Rutherford writes that Morris commits "the scientific sin of the 'just-so' story -- speculation that sounds appealing but cannot be tested or is devoid of evidence". [13] However, this is also a criticism of adaptationism in evolutionary biology, not just of Morris.

Morris is also criticised for stating that gender roles have a deep evolutionary rather than cultural background. [14]

Related Research Articles

Zoology is the branch of biology that studies the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct, and how they interact with their ecosystems. The term is derived from Ancient Greek ζῷον, zōion, i.e. "animal" and λόγος, logos, i.e. "knowledge, study".

Frans de Waal

Franciscus Bernardus Maria "Frans" de Waal is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Department of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory, and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics (1982) and Our Inner Ape (2005). His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lyall Watson

Lyall Watson was a South African botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist, and author of many books, among the most popular of which is the best seller Supernature. Lyall Watson tried to make sense of natural and supernatural phenomena in biological terms. He is credited with coining the "hundredth monkey" effect in his 1979 book, Lifetide; later, in The Whole Earth Review, he conceded this was "a metaphor of my own making".

Menagerie Form of keeping common and exotic animals in captivity that preceded the modern zoological garden

A menagerie is a collection of captive animals, frequently exotic, kept for display; or the place where such a collection is kept, a precursor to the modern zoological garden.

Congo (chimpanzee) Chimpanzee who learned how to draw and paint

Congo (1954–1964) was a chimpanzee who learned how to draw and paint. Zoologist, author and surrealist painter Desmond Morris first observed his abilities when the chimp was offered a pencil and paper at two years of age. By the age of four, Congo had made 400 drawings and paintings. His style has been described as "lyrical abstract impressionism".

Animal-made art

Animal-made art is art created by an animal. Animal-made works of art have been created by apes, elephants, cetacea, reptiles, and bowerbirds, among other species.

Aubrey William George Manning, OBE, FRSE, FRSB, was an English zoologist and broadcaster.

Anthrozoology

Anthrozoology, also known as human–nonhuman-animal studies (HAS), is the subset of ethnobiology that deals with interactions between humans and other animals. It is an interdisciplinary field that overlaps with other disciplines including anthropology, ethnology, medicine, psychology, social work, veterinary medicine, and zoology. A major focus of anthrozoologic research is the quantifying of the positive effects of human–animal relationships on either party and the study of their interactions. It includes scholars from fields such as anthropology, sociology, biology, history and philosophy.

William Homan Thorpe

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<i>The Human Zoo</i> (book)

The Human Zoo is a book written by the British zoologist Desmond Morris, published in 1969. It is a follow-up to his earlier book The Naked Ape; both books examine how the biological nature of the human species has shaped the character of the cultures of the contemporary world.

<i>The Naked Ape</i>

The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal is a 1967 book by zoologist and ethologist Desmond Morris that looks at humans as a species and compares them to other animals. The Human Zoo, a follow-up book by Morris that examined the behaviour of people in cities, was published in 1969.

Silvano Levy

Silvano Levy is an academic and art critic specialising in surrealism. He has published on Belgian surrealism with studies on René Magritte, E.L.T. Mesens and Paul Nougé. His research on The Surrealist Group in England began with a film on Conroy Maddox and the book Conroy Maddox: Surreal Enigmas (1995), while a wider interest in the movement led to the publication of Surrealism: Surrealist Visuality (1997) and Surrealism (2000). Levy has curated national touring exhibitions of the work of Maddox and Desmond Morris, and has published a monograph on the latter entitled Desmond Morris: 50 Years of Surrealism (1997), which was followed by the enlarged re-edition Desmond Morris: Naked Surrealism (1999). Subsequent books on Morris include Lines of Thought: The Drawings of Desmond Morris (2008) and two volumes of an analytical catalogue raisonné spanning eight decades. Silvano Levy's monograph on Maddox, The Scandalous Eye. The Surrealism of Conroy Maddox, was published by Liverpool University Press in 2003. 2015 saw the publication of Decoding Magritte. Further studies cover Sheila Legge, Toni del Renzio, André Breton, Dina Lenković, Jean-Martin Charcot and Birmingham surrealism. Dr Levy is editor of Surrealist Bulletin and has held academic posts at the University of Liverpool, Newcastle Polytechnic, the University of Bath, the University of Hull and Keele University, where he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in French in 1998 and then to Reader in 2005.

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A zoo is a facility in which animals are housed within enclosures, cared for, displayed to the public, and in some cases bred.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to zoology:

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<i>The Human Animal</i> (TV series)

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Williams, D. "Desmond Morris Biography". Desmond-morris.com. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  2. 1 2 Dunbar, Robin (24 September 2017). "The Naked Ape at 50". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  3. Morris 1967.
  4. Harré, R. (2006). "Chapter 5: The Biopsychologists". Key Thinkers in Psychology, pp. 125-132. London: Sage.
  5. "Desmond Morris". Social Issues Research Centre . Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  6. National Life Stories, 'Morris, Desmond (1 of 2) National Life Stories Collection: Science and Religion', The British Library Board, 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2017
  7. Douglas, Alice (1 November 2008). "My family values: Desmond Morris interview". The Guardian . Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  8. Moss, Stephen (18 December 2007). "We'd be better off if women ran everything". The Guardian . Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  9. "Taurus Gallery" . Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  10. "Desmond Morris on the Irish". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  11. The Big Cats ... Illustrated by Barry Driscoll. explore.bl.uk. Bodley Head Natural Science Picture Books. The British Library Board. 1965. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  12. Schrobsdorff, Susanna. "All-TIME 100 Nonfiction Books". Time. ISSN   0040-781X . Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  13. Rutherford 2019, p. 71.
  14. Moss, Stephen (18 December 2007). "'We'd be better off if women ran everything'". The Guardian.