Facts about bonobo

We found 18 facts about bonobo

An ape with an exceptionally exuberant sexuality

The pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), also known as the bonobo, is a fascinating species of great ape that has attracted the attention of researchers and nature lovers for years.

Like its cousin, the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), the bonobo is closely related to humans, which makes it particularly interesting from the point of view of studies of animal evolution and behavior.

The pygmy chimpanzee resembles its cousin the common chimpanzee in appearance, but differs from it both physically and behaviorally. Its community is characterized by an unusual conflict resolution system and sizable social bonds. Bonobos are known for their exceptionally exuberant sexuality, which they use as a tool to build bonds, reduce tensions, and resolve disputes within the group.

The species is astounding for its exceptional intelligence, social bonds, and unusual way of dealing with challenges in a wild rainforest environment.

The pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus) is a species of primate in the family of manes (Hominidae).

Humans (Hominidae) are a family of primates in the superfamily of anthropoids (Hominodea) that includes the largest species among primates that exhibit high intelligence, a tendency to adopt an upright, bipedal posture, and the ability to produce and use tools.

Within the human-like species, there is the subfamily Homininae, which includes the genera: Gorilla (gorilla), Pan (chimpanzee), and Homo (human), of which Homo sapiens (rational man) is the only living modern representative.

Another name for the pygmy chimpanzee is bonobo, and this is now the commonly used name for the species.

The name first appeared in 1954, when Austrian zoologist Eduard Paul Tratz and German biologist Heinz Heck proposed it as a new and distinct generic term for pygmy chimpanzees.

The name is believed to have originated from a mistake in writing on a shipping crate from the town of Bolobo in the lower Congo River, from the vicinity of which came the first chimpanzee specimens brought to Europe.

The generic name paniscus comes from the diminutive of the word Pan, which in Greek mythology denoted the protective god of forests and fields, guarding shepherds and their flocks, hailing from Arcadia.

Bonobos are endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They live in its central and southern parts, covering an area of 500.000 square kilometers. Their habitat is the tropical rainforests south of the Congo River and north of the Kasai River, a tributary of the Congo. The Congo River arc is the northern limit of bonobo occurrence, as well as the habitat limit of the common chimpanzee.

The bonobo and the common chimpanzee are two species that make up the genus Pan and are the closest living relatives of humans (Homo sapiens).

According to a study conducted by scientists at George Washington University, bonobos and common chimpanzees separated from the human lineage about 8 million years ago. About 2 million years ago, bonobos also separated from common chimpanzees.

It is widely believed that the bonobo’s physique is more slender than that of the common chimpanzee.

The two species do not generally differ in body size. Adult female bonobos are slightly smaller than adult males. The male’s body length is 73-83 centimeters, and the female’s is 70-76 centimeters. The body weight of females ranges from 26-36 kilograms, and males from 36-43 kilograms.

The bonobo can be distinguished from the common chimpanzee by its more slender body, longer limbs, black face with light eyelids and a light chin, as well as black hair, thick and long sideburns, and reddish lips.

The herd structure of bonobo is largely characterized by egalitarianism (gender equality) and the dominance of sexual interaction between individuals.

Hierarchy in the bonobo herd is not as strongly marked as among other primates. Frans de Waal, a primatologist-primate zoologist, claims that bonobos are capable of altruism, compassion, empathy, kindness, patience, and sensitivity. He described the bonobo community as a gynecocracy or female dominion. This matrilineal social structure is unusual among great apes.

Bonobo herds are loosely connected.

They live in large groups of 40 to 120 individuals, which often divide into smaller subgroups of 6 to 23 individuals, sometimes coming together. Rarely are single individuals found, generally males.

In a large group, the position of females is more visible, and the relationship between females is much closer (mutual grooming, sharing food) than between ales. Males generally maintain close contact with their mothers throughout their lives and, unlike females, permanently remain in their birth group. The position of males in the herd may depend on the rank of their mother.

Bonobos engage in a variety of sexual encounters, copulating with different partners at every opportunity.

Copulation plays an important role in the herd and is mainly intended to reduce tension. It is practiced regardless of age, sex, or rank in the herd. Sexual intercourse in exchange for food, greeting, resolving conflicts, or “reconciling” after a conflict is common.

Sexual intercourse takes place in a variety of positions. Bonobos are the only non-human primates to have sex face-to-face (one in three copulations). Tongue kissing, genital rubbing, and oral or homosexual sex have been observed, in both males and females.

It is presumed that female bonobos rubbing their genitals reflect orgasm by emitting squeals and smiles (laboratory experiments on lion-tailed macaques have shown that females are not the only female primates capable of physiological orgasm).

The statistical duration of sexual intercourse in bonobos is about 13 seconds.

Sex for these animals is primarily a means of interpersonal communication and not, as in most other species, solely a procreative act. Although the frequency of sexual intercourse in bonobos is many times higher than in other apes, this does not translate into more offspring.

Bonobos feed primarily on plant foods-57 percent of their diet is fruit.

Supplementing their diet are leaves, honey, eggs, and sometimes small vertebrates and invertebrates. Bonobo’s eating habits distinguish them from common chimpanzees, which prey on other apes.

Bonobos are the second-largest (after elephants) frugivores in the DRC’s rainforests, contributing to the dispersal of plant seeds. It is estimated that each bonobo will ingest and spread 9 tons of seeds from more than 91 species of lianas, grasses, trees, and shrubs during its lifetime.

Bonobos reproduce year-round but take a four-year break between pregnancies.

They reach sexual maturity between the ages of 8 and 9, but females give birth for the first time at 13 or 14. Pregnancy lasts an average of 240 days, after which one young is usually born. The female feeds them with milk until they are about 5 years old.

Bonobos can communicate using sound signals and gestures.

They can also predict the behavior of other individuals in the herd. Scientists say bonobos may have consciousness and a similar psyche to humans. It has also been proven that these monkeys can recognize themselves in a mirror. They are extremely intelligent, as evidenced by the fact that two captive bonobos, Kanzi and Panbanisha, have learned to write. The monkeys had acquired some 500 geometric symbols and, using a special keyboard, used them to answer questions asked by researchers. Kanzi’s vocabulary consists of more than 500 English words, and he understands about 3000 spoken English words.

Kanzi is also known for learning by watching people. In the 1990s, he learned to make and use simple stone tools.

They do not become attached to their habitats.

Every day they establish their nests in the trees, and after spending the night in them, they do not return to them. They spend the day searching for food.

No cases of infanticide have been found in bonobos.

This phenomenon is typical of common chimpanzees, as well as other aggressive behaviors caused by the struggle for influence in the herd. In bonobos, such behaviors have not been observed.

There is no knowledge of the lifespan of bonobos in the wild.

They can live about 40 years in captivity, so it is presumed that they live much shorter lives in the wild.

Bonobos are threatened with extinction.

Scientists predict that the species will become completely extinct within the next 100 years. The reason for this is human activity to occupy more of their habitat - currently, bonobos can only inhabit 28 percent of their range.

Bonobo was discovered in 1928.

It was first scientifically described in 1929 by German zoologist Ernst Schwarz, who named it Pan satyrus paniscus.

World Bonobo Day is celebrated on 14th February.

World Chimpanzee Day falls on 14th July.

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