Here's Erma, to human beings what Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees--an ardent student and a whole lot funnier. In fact, as Bombeck (A Marriage Made in Heaven . . . Or Too Tired for an Affair, 1993, etc.) puts it, ""The breakthrough hit me like a bolt. Jane and I were studying the same species."" A pungent fact heading each chapter on the curious way in which animals eat, mate, play, travel, or cope with boredom launches Bombeck on her favorite subject, the even more curious behavior of men, women, and children. African elephants may be able to breed until they're 90 years old, but baby boomers are pushing to catch up, with a 59-year-old woman giving birth to twins. Not a good idea to go much further, Bombeck muses: ""It's too risky for a woman to put a baby down and not remember where she left it."" Lost dolphins lead her to men who can't ask for directions, injured deer to alternative medicine, the speed of cheetahs to the IRS, Gus the bored bear to the bizarre guests on talk shows, a bird who walks on water to the men's movement, and dinosaurs to Milwaukee's Mall of America. Some of the connections are a stretch, like ""putting a pair of size A panty-hose . . . over [a] size C torso""; and some of the acerbic anecdotes will be repetitious to Bombeck fans. However, even refurbished material gleams in the light of her good-humored affection for her fellow humans and her gift for summing up their foibles in pithy one-liners. Not the best of Bombeck, but as always, a welcome poke at the misguided dieters, shoppers, spouses, TV hosts, and others in the animal kingdom who prize propriety over a belly laugh.