Staying Positive with Pan Paniscus

April 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )


Well, I’m still feeling sickly and the high here in Chicago will be hitting a whopping 40 degrees today.  I’m tired of feeling crappy though and I’m not going to complain anymore (today).  To try to boost my spirits, I’ve decided to write about my all-time favorite animal: bonobo chimpanzees.

The Bonobo (pan paniscus) is known as the peace-loving chimp.  It wasn’t until the 1950’s that primatologists realized the bonobo was a separate animal from the common chimpanzee (pan troglodytes), since the two are so similar.  However, they are different (both genetically and socially), and bonobos have long since been my favorite.  They are an endangered species and are indigenous to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  They (along with the common chimp) are the closest living relatives to human beings – interesting fact: DNA studies show that chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than to gorillas.  Cool, huh?

Bonobos are known as the peaceful chimp for a few reasons.  First of all, there are no observed findings of lethal aggression of these animals, whether in the wild or in captivity.  Common chimps, on the other hand, are known to commit infanticide and hunt other chimps.  Yeah, common chimps aren’t as Curious George as one might assume.

It was assumed for many years that bonobos were always matriarchal, but recent studies have shown that there is often an alpha male who helps protect the ladies.  However, unlike most primate populations, female bonobos aren’t always subordinate to all of the males.  Females typically rule the roost and a male’s status is derived from the status of his mother.  The females also have such strong bonding that it allows them to dominate their society – the males may be stronger physically but they could never stand alone (and win) against a group of bonded females.    Bonobo’s also walk upright about 25% of the time, which helps give these apes a human-like appearance.  If you doubt how much a chimp can look like a person, do a google image search for bonobo’s and see what you come up with.

(THE UPCOMING PARAGRAPH FEATURES ADULT CONTENT)

WARNING: if you do this search, you will see lots of photos of bonobo’s having sex.  This is because the bonobo is the most promiscuous of all primates studied (free-loving animals will always have a special place in my heart).  Bonobo’s don’t form permanent relationships with partners and instead will mate with just about anyone, anywhere (with the exception of mother-son pairings; some things are taboo no matter what your species).  Bonobo’s use sex to greet one another and resolve conflict.  They are the only non-human animal to have ever been observed engaging in face to face genital sex, tongue kissing and oral sex.  They basically sit around and get each other off instead of fighting, which is something I think their human counterparts should do a bit more of.  At least, in my humble opinion.

Here’s another picture:

Cute, huh?

So, my little post here in no way represents everything there is to know about bonobo’s.  This is just a rushed rehashing of a Wikipedia page, mixed in with my own rusty knowledge from college and course studyings.  If you’re interested in learning more, well, you can research it on your own or give me a call, because I’m nerdy enough to enjoy having conversations about primates.  This is made evident by the primate photos I have hanging on my dining room wall.

Don’t believe me?  Come on over.  Just make sure you bring a SARS mask, because it appears that this weather has given my cough an engraved invitation to stick around.

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