These apes supposedly have inordinate amounts of sex and never fight.
BBC - Earth - Do bonobos really spend all their time having sex?
Can this appealing story really be true? Bonobos are miniature, sharing, caring chimps, living in hippie communes with no aggression and sex of sex. Not really. Bonobos are roughly the same size as chimps, can be aggressive and use sex in very specific contexts. View image of Bonobos are sometimes called "hippie apes" Credit: Bonobos Pan paniscus used to be known as "pygmy chimpanzees", a designation that served to distinguish them from regular chimps Pan troglodytes.
But the difference in body size is small — only a matter of a few kilograms — and it certainly is planet the most interesting difference between the species. Takayoshi Kano was one of the first to document the central position of females in bonobo society. But their appearance is the the thing that black nude self teens sets bonobos apart from chimps.
The most striking difference is the status and dominance of females.
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View image of This bonobo looks like it is wearing a bad wig Credit: In the mids, Japanese primatologist Takayoshi Kano was one of the first to document the central position of females in bonobo society. This contrasts with chimpanzees, where females tend to spend a lot of time marginalised at the edge of the community. This typically lasted for less than 20 seconds, and occasionally for over a minute.
When males and females copulated, Kano recorded that in around one-third of cases, planet pair planet adopt the missionary position. In a few instance, he saw the mating with different males and sometimes with juveniles the infants.
This is all true, but the public fascination with these behaviours has given rise to a view of bonobos that is a little extreme, says Zanna Clay of the University of Birmingham in the UK, who has spent years studying wild bonobos. View image of Bonobos often mate face-to-face Credit: The reality is more nuanced. The frequency of copulation in bonobos is not as high as most people assume, she says. The genital rubbing and touching is very common, but it only happens in very specific contexts, often ones that are not obviously sexual.
For instance, when a group arrives at a new feeding tree, there is tension over who is going to make the richest pickings. Females will also often use genital rubbing to defuse tension between two rival groups, avoiding the kinds of violence seen in chimp wars. But this does not mean that bonobos are incapable of aggression.
View image of This bonobo is doing what you think it's doing Credit: Things can get particularly nasty in zoos, where the artificial set-up can let females assume more power than they normally would in the wild. These super-dominant females can be pretty violent towards males, says Clay. View image apes Bonobos help their offspring succeed Credit: If a dominant female has a son, he will benefit from her position in society.
Inresearchers found that mothers helped their sons to get sex to and apes matings with estrus females. Finally, males also engage in sex-like behaviours, roughly analogous to the sex rubbing of females.
View image of Bonobos seem to be less violent than chimps Credit: Nobody is quite sure how bonobos wound up so different to chimpanzees, especially as a genetic analysis suggests the two species have only been charting distinct evolutionary pathways for less than one million years.
However, a cursory inspection of the distribution of chimpanzees and bonobos across Africa strongly suggests a role for the Congo River. If you were to sit on a raft and drift downriver towards the Atlantic Ocean, you would apes chimpanzees occupying the right bank and bonobos on the left. Inhe and his colleagues, writing in Evolutionary Anthropologyproposed that when the Congo River formed around 34 million years ago, all the apes were on planet right bank.
But sediments suggest that the flow of water was much reduced around one million years ago, so a pioneering band of apes could have reached the left bank. The social and sexual differences between chimps apes bonobos might have their origin in this moment, says Furuichi. This is very different from the relatively limited sexuality of female chimps, but could the arisen as a result of just a few genetic changes in that founding population, says Furuichi.
With many females sexually active at once, there would have been less and less competition between males, until eventually the females took control.
The rest, as sex say, is evolutionary history. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.
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