Bonobo Research Paper

Words: 1286
Pages: 6


Species Origination and Geographical Distribution -The bonobo is the most recently discovered great ape in modern times. It was revealed in 1929 by German anatomist Ernest Schwarz that a skull once thought belonging to a juvenile chimpanzee was in fact a new subspecies of chimpanzee known now as the Pan paniscus, or bonobo. (Waal 6) During the Pleistocene epoch approximately 1.5 million years ago, the Congo River was formed in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (San Diego Zoo 2) The river geographically segregated groups and individual chimpanzees south of the river resulting in these chimps being reproductively isolated. Allopatric speciation took place as a response to new
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By carrying more weight lower in their body and having a shorter, slender torso Bonobo’s are anatomically suited for bipedalism. (San Diego Zoo Library 3)
Social Characteristics -Bonobo’s are diurnal and omnivorous, spending approximately 30% of their day feeding on fruits, shoots, leaves, seeds, flowers, and an extensive range of invertebrates and vertebrates. Arboreal, they spend most of their time in the dense upper forest canopy, nesting in large groups for the night, a unique social characteristic of African apes. Their social organization structure comprises of large communities of temporary parties, biased towards females, encompassing four sub-groups: matrifocal units, male bands, male singletons, and female singletons. (Crandlemire-Sacco 172) Females are the dominate sex among bonobo’s, establishing hierarchy among themselves based around age and time in the group. Female dominance stems from weak alliances among males, allowing females to form strong bonds affording them greater influence. Males will fight violently with one another over rank with their mothers social standing influencing males rank greatly. (Waal 76) Separating bonobo’s from all other primates is their use of complex sexual behaviors to control social interactions and diffuse tense situations, this strengthens bonds among all pairings, especially female-female bonds through sexual rubbing and mutual masturbation.