At the San Diego Zoo, I observed that if Loretta was in a sexually attractive state, she would not hesitate to approach the adult male, Vernon, if he had food. Bonobo reproductive rates are no higher than those of the common chimpanzee. Second, bonobo sex often occurs in aggressive contexts totally unrelated to food. If two bonobos approach a cardboard box thrown into their enclosure, they will briefly mount each other before playing with the box.
Such situations lead to squabbles in most other species. But even when taking this into account, the team found that aggression increased a male's chances of siring offspring — regardless of whether the chimp was more or less dominant. Just imagine that we had never heard of chimpanzees or baboons and had known bonobos first. Koko is very interested in dental work and, coming from California, seldom encounters anything as basic as our UK fillings. These early studies, written in German, were ignored by the international scientific establishment. At the same time, females want to mate with the highest-quality males when they are at their most fertile, upping the chances of producing fit offspring, Gilby said. On the contrary, reports exist of peaceable mingling, including mutual sex and grooming, between what appear to be different communities. Yet no degree of moralizing can make sex disappear from every realm of human life that does not relate to the nuclear family. What a contrast with chimpanzees! The researchers studied violence that occurred both when the females were sexually receptive, or swollen, and when they were not. If intergroup combat is indeed unusual, it may explain the lower rate of all-male associations. Bonding among male chimpanzees follows naturally because they remain in the community of their birth. The bonobo was officially classified as Pan paniscus, or the diminutive Pan. Yet another motivation is probably the real cause: Nancy Thompson-Handler, then at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, saw bonobos in the Lomako Forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo formerly Zaire engage in sex after they had entered trees loaded with ripe figs or when one among them had captured a prey animal, such as a small forest duiker. But in , at the 14th Congress of the International Primatological Society in Strasbourg, investigators of both captive and wild bonobos presented data that left little doubt about the issue. I spent entire days in front of the enclosure with a video camera, which was switched on at feeding time. Serious conflict between bonobo groups has been witnessed in the field, but it seems quite rare. The diversity of erotic contacts in bonobos includes sporadic oral sex, massage of another individuals genitals and intense tongue-kissing. When the apes stand or walk upright, they look as if they stepped straight out of an artists impression of early hominids. Despite the frequency of sex, the bonobos rate of reproduction in the wild is about the same as that of the chimpanzee. The Peace Forest Project works with local communities to establish a linked constellation of community-based reserves, managed by local and indigenous people. A sense of shame and a desire for domestic privacy are typical human concepts related to the evolution and cultural bolstering of the family. Bonobo specialists, while long suspecting such a reality, had been reluctant to make the controversial claim. This article was originally published with the title "Bonobo Sex and Society".
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