Danilo Mainardi

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Danilo Mainardi
Born(1933-11-25)25 November 1933
Died8 March 2017(2017-03-08) (aged 83)
Venice, Italy
OccupationEthologist, scholar and writer

Danilo Mainardi (25 November 1933 – 8 March 2017) was an Italian ethologist, scholar, and writer.


Born in Milan, the son of Enzo Mainardi, he graduated in 1956 in biology in Parma. From 1967 to 1992 he taught zoology, and then biology and ethology at the University of Parma, in the Science and Medicine faculties. From 1973 he directed the School of Ethology of the Scientific cultural center Ettore Majorana in Erice.

He taught Ethology of Behaviour at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice.

He was national president of LIPU (Lega italiana protezione uccelli, Italian League for the defence of birds, founded in 1965 and Italian partner of Birdlife International), and later became its honorary president.

Mainardi studied the social and sexual behaviour of animals, and its evolution, starting from the relationships between parents and offspring (particularly the importance of the "imprinting"). His studies demonstrate that also the animals can transmit - to a certain extent - the capacity to transfer solution to problems from one individual to another: the process of innovation according to Mainardi's results is not exclusive of mankind.

He directed the Italian Journal of Zoology, organ of the Italian Zoological association (Unione Zoologica italiana). Besides his researches and teachings, he was most popular in Italy as a regular and appreciated guest at various scientific TV programs, such as Dalla parte degli animali (On the animals' side), and the scientific series Quark, the first show of the kind in Italy aimed at a general public, created in 1981 by Italian journalist Piero Angela. Since the beginnings, Mainardi was a regular contributor to Quark, cooperating with Piero Angela to spread the interest for the scientific matters, making a point in using the simplest possible language even for complex subjects, to reach every spectator.

He was an atheist, and president of Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Mainardi also contributed to several Italian major newspaper, such as the Corriere della Sera, and has written more than 200 publications and books.


  • 1974 - L'animale culturale (The cultural animal), BUR (ISBN 8817120480)
  • 1975 - La scelta sessuale nell'evoluzione della specie, Bollati Boringhieri (ISBN 9788833903200)
  • 1989 - Novanta animali, Bollati Boringhieri (ISBN 9788833904900)
  • 1991 - Animali e uomini, Il Cigno Galileo Galilei
  • 1991 - Galapagos e Patagonia. Sulle orme di Darwin, Il Cigno Galileo Galilei
  • 1991 - Etologia & protezione animale, Editoriale Grasso (ISBN 8870551180)]
  • 1992 - Il cane e la volpe, Einaudi (ISBN 9788806124519)
  • 1992 - Dizionario di Etologia, Einaudi (ISBN 9788806130275)
  • 1994 - Lo zoo aperto, Einaudi (ISBN 880613535X)
  • 1995 - Il corno del rinoceronte, Mondadori (ISBN 9788804406655)
  • 1996 - Del cane, del gatto e di altri animali, Mondadori (ISBN 9788804416012)
  • 1997 - Gli animali fanno così, Giunti Editore (ISBN 9788809454088)
  • 2000 - La strategia dell'aquila (The Strategy of the Eagle), Mondadori (ISBN 9788804490647)
  • 2001 - L'animale irrazionale, Mondadori (ISBN 9788804488378)
  • 2002 - L'etologia caso per caso, (Case studies in Ethology) Airplane (ISBN 9788883721151)
  • 2003 - Arbitri e galline, Mondadori (ISBN 9788804523574)
  • 2006 - Nella mente degli animali (In the animals' mind), Cairo Publishing (ISBN 9788860520425)
  • 2008 - La bella zoologia (The nice Zoology), Cairo Publishing (ISBN 9788860521484)
  • 2009 - L'intelligenza degli animali (The intelligence of animals), Cairo Publishing (ISBN 9788860522153)

Among his publications in English:

  • "Sociobiology: beyond nature/nurture?", American Association Adv.Sc.
  • "The biology of aggression", Sijtoff & Nordhoff
  • "The behaviour of Human Infant", Plenum
  • "Fear and Defence", Harwood
  • "Infanticide and Parental care", Harwood
  • "Food preferences", Harwood
  • "Behavioural ecology of fishes", Harwood
  • "Vertebrate mating systems", World Scientific


External links[edit]