The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bonobos and Chimpanzees have different Behaviours

Bonobos are the new darlings of the noble savage crowd. They were bitterly disappointed by the rest of the great apes that, as recently as the 1970’s, were all supposed to be peaceful, vegetarian, and inoffensive. When Jane Goodall and others started actually observing great apes in the wild and, as chronicled in books such as Wrangham and Peterson’s Demonic Males, found that they occasionally displayed a few less endearing traits, such as hunting and eating meat, rape, infanticide, and the use of weapons in violent border warfare and raiding, true believers in the innate “goodness” of mankind demonstrated their own nobility by subjecting the messengers to furious ad hominem attacks. It didn’t work. Too many observers were reporting the same thing, and the evidence was too compelling.

Enter the Bonobo. They supposedly possess all the “good” traits their close relatives, the chimpanzees, so notably lack. Occasionally their halo will slip. For example, they compete for status, just like the other great apes. Then, too, their hagiographers will occasionally slip up. I was at a lecture about them once at which the speaker sought to emphasize their “feminist” nature. It seems the females in bonobo groups tend to form alliances for self-protection, and to maintain decorum among the males. The speaker recounted how, in one of the groups, an unruly male had attempted some aggressive behavior towards one of the females. She and her pals ganged up on the evil-doer, giving him a thorough drubbing and, in the words of the speaker, nearly tearing his scrotum completely off. Feminism was certainly vindicated by the incident, but the bonobo’s supposedly non-violent nature less so.

Be that as it may, apart from a few such rare lapses, bonobos do seem to be a great deal less violent and generally “demonic” than their close relatives, the chimpanzees. If estimates that they shared a common ancestor as recently as 1.5 to 3 million years ago are correct, it would seem to demonstrate a high degree of flexibility in the evolutionary toolkit pertaining to the innate behavioral traits that characterize humans as well as other animals. On the other hand, it may be that all these observed traits are subject to greater cultural variation within species that previously imagined. Perhaps bonobo groups can be more “demonic” than their observed behavior to date would indicate, and chimps have taken a bum rap and are really capable of more placid behavior under the right conditions.
Story Credit Here and to read about the Langurs

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