Humanimal (Hardcover)

How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New Evolutionary History

By Adam Rutherford

The Experiment, 9781615195312, 256pp.

Publication Date: March 19, 2019

List Price: 25.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived investigates what it means to be human—and the ways we are (and aren’t) unique among animals

Publisher’s note: Humanimal was published in the UK under the title The Book of Humans.

We like to think of ourselves as exceptional beings, but are we really more special than other animals? In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores how many of the things once considered to be exclusively human are not: We are not the only species that communicates, makes tools, uses fire, or has sex for reasons other than procreation. Evolution has, however, allowed us to develop a culture far more complex than any other observed in nature. Humanimal explains how we became the creatures we are today, uniquely able to investigate ourselves. Illuminating the latest genetic research, it is a thrilling account of what unequivocally fixes us as animals—and what makes us truly extraordinary.

About the Author

Adam Rutherford wrote A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived—finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction—and Creation, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. He writes and presents BBC’s flagship weekly Radio 4 program Inside Science; The Cell for BBC Four; and Playing God (on the rise of synthetic biology) for leading science series Horizon; in addition to writing for the Guardian.

Praise For Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New Evolutionary History

“A smooth, expert, and often startling history that emphasizes that no behavior separates us from other animals, but we remain an utterly unique species.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Engaging, accessible, and highly recommended.”—Library Journal

“Rutherford’s entertaining work offers a refreshing and perspective-altering view of the complex history of life on Earth.”—Publishers Weekly

“Rutherford is an engaging, witty writer. He is also a concise one. After several vast but worthy tomes about human nature that have been published recently, that makes this pithy homage to our species all the more welcome. An entertaining and blessedly succinct read.”—Guardian

“A kind of intellectual enema, exposing the popular myths about human exceptionalism.”—New Scientist

“[Rutherford] writes with intellectual authority and also, as a popular lecturer and broadcaster, expresses himself in a clear and persuasive manner with natural charm.”—Spectator

“I loved this book. An outstandingly clear and witty account that shows beyond doubt how much we are part of the animal world, and yet at the same time how different we have become.”—Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm
“This delightful and charming book will change the way you see yourself and your place in the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes
“Adam Rutherford is a master storyteller. [Humanimal] is packed to the brim with intriguing tales, clever twists, and up-to-the-minute scientific discoveries, offering a completely new perspective on who we are and how we came to be.”—Hannah Fry, author of The Mathematics of Love
“Charming, compelling, and packed with information. I learned more about biology from this short book than I did from years of science lessons. Adam Rutherford has a knack for making complex ideas understandable—and also fun. Our species is a lot stranger than I’d ever realized, but a lot more normal, too. A weird and wonderful read.”—Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
“I’ve learned more about myself and my species than I thought possible. A beautiful, compassionate book exploring not just human nature but also the human condition. I’m more in love with Adam Rutherford’s writing than ever.”—Angela Saini, author of Inferior
“If teaching is what makes humans special, then Adam Rutherford is superhuman—the paragon of teachers, a truly gifted transmitter of knowledge: lucid, enlightening, witty, and delightful.”—Kate Fox, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre
“Adam Rutherford is a superb communicator who eruditely explores the borderlands of history, archaeology, genetics, and anthropology in this fascinating tour of our species.”—Dan Snow, host of the podcast Dan Snow’s History Hit