Alain Prochiantz

A Monkey, Yourself

Alain Prochiantz is a specialist in developmental biology. A member of the French Academy of Sciences, he is professor at the Collège de France (Chair in “morphogenetic processes”) He is currently head of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology at the Collège de France. [from his online biography]

“Humans are not animals like any of the others, and we aren’t denying the existence of animal cultures when we don’t place chimpanzees’ termite twigs on the same level as the Sistine Chapel.

In this book, I look at the genetic and cellular mechanisms at the origin of the specificities of our species. It is only by entering into the details of the structure and evolution of genomes, without ignoring the consequences of those genetic evolutions on physiology, anatomy, and behavior, that we can measure the human exception and respond intelligently to the question of our place in evolution, and of what it means in terms of proximity to – but also distance from – other species.

Beyond ideological considerations, always very present when we broach the theme of the distinction between humans and non-human animals, scientific facts enable us to assess the singular position of Sapiens in the history of species, which is both to be and not to be an animal.”