Unlike the male-dominated societies of their chimpanzee relatives, bonobo societyin which females enjoy a higher social status than maleshas a "make-love-not-war" kind of image. While chimpanzee males frequently band together to hunt and kill monkeys, the more peaceful bonobos were believed to restrict what meat they do eat to forest antelopes, squirrels, and rodents.
Not so, according to a study, reported in the October 14th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, that offers the first direct evidence of wild bonobos hunting and eating the young of other primate species.
"These findings are particularly relevant for the discussion about male dominance and bonding, aggression and huntinga domain that was thought to separate chimpanzees and bonobos," said Gottfried Hohmann of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "In chimpanzees, male-dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting, and meat consumption. By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat eating in bonobos. Our observations suggest that, in contrast to previous assumptions, these behaviors may persist in societies with different social relations."
Bonobos live only in the lowland forest south of the river Congo, and, along with chimpanzees, they are humans' closest relatives. Bonobos are perhaps best known for their promiscuity: sexual acts both within and between the sexes are a common means of greeting, resolving conflicts, or reconciling after conflicts.
The researchers made the discovery that these free-loving primates also hunt and kill other primates while they were studying a bonobo population living in LuiKotale, Salonga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They had been observing the bonobos there for the last five years, which is what made the new observations possible.
Although Hohmann's team did have pr
|Contact: Cathleen Genova|