The Human Animal

A study of human behaviour from a zoological perspective

The Human Animal: A Personal View of the Human Species is a BBC nature documentary series written and presented by Desmond Morris. It was first broadcast on TV in 1994.

Morris describes it as “A study of human behaviour from a zoological perspective.” He travels the world, filming the diverse customs and habits of various regions while suggesting common roots.

I’ve sometimes been accused of degrading mankind, of insulting human dignity, of making man beastly. This surprised me because I like animals, and I feel proud to call myself one. I’ve never looked down upon them, so to call human beings animals is not, to me, degrading. It’s simply being honest: putting us in our place as part of the scheme of nature on the planet Earth.
Desmond Morris

Episode 1: Language In The Body

Episode 1: Language In The Body

This episode takes a look at cultural gestures such as: greetings, insults, signals, gesticulations. These gestures and the body language behind them are deciphered quickly and the human emotions are understood almost immediately by the human animal.

We also take a look at different body language cues, like: stares, smiles, tells, etc.

Episode 2: The Hunting Ape

Episode 2: The Hunting Ape

The Hunting Ape delves into the human animal’s diet, evolution and hunting behaviour.

The human has a fondness for sweets and culinary variety. The episode continues its idea about human evolution traversing an arboreal vegetarianism, savannah meat-eating, cooperative hunting with weapons, food preparation and has an aquatic ape hypothesis.

Finally, the vestigial hunting behaviour behind the human animal – our modern day equivalent of jobs, sport hunting and war.

Episode 3: The Human Zoo

Episode 3: The Human Zoo

The Human Zoo focus on how our society has formed, with everything human in it.

The urban tribalism is real with human familiarity, theft, uniforms, rituals, conflicts, social status and our way of measuring territory.

Episode 4: The Biology of Love

Episode 4: The Biology of Love

This episode tries to understand the human way of love and courtship.

How do we find partners, what are our gender signals, how do we date, what are the tie signs, how does the human animal bond as a pair and finally, how do we have intercourse?

Episode 5: The Immortal Genes

Episode 5: The Immortal Genes

The Immortal Genes inspects our life cycle: the infant-parent interaction, baby signals, child behaviour, rites of passage, cultural indoctrination, fighting aging, grand-parenting and the human ideas of afterlives.

Episode 6: Beyond Survival

Episode 6: Beyond Survival

The last episode in The Human Animal targets creativity, artistic progression and human play.

The human creativity of body adornment, our architectural embellishments, vehicles and art. The artistic progression of innate scribbling and realism. Our human play; what it means to have childhood experimentation, adult inventiveness, sports, thrill-seeking and symbolic thinking.

The Human Animal
  • Episodes
  • Episode 1Language In The Body
  • Episode 2The Hunting Ape
  • Episode 3The Human Zoo
  • Episode 4The Biology of Love
  • Episode 5The Immortal Genes
  • Episode 6Beyond Survival
  • Info
  • Release date27 July 1994
  • Full run time250 minutes
  • Produced byBBC, Discovery Channel
  • HostDesmond Morris