Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chimps are from Mars, Bonobos are from Venus

Next week a group of scientists from the Max Planck Institute will be traveling to the Congo to study our close cousins, the Bonobos. We're just as closely related to these great apes as we are to Common Chimpanzees, but a lot more behavioral study and comparison has been devoted to the later. The contrast between the patriarchal chimp social structure and the matriarchal bonobos is of particular interest. While chimps tend to be more aggressive or violent, Bonobos are generally more cooperative, and they are noted for their use of sexual behavior to ease tensions. The researchers will be trying to learn more about the thought processes behind their behavior.

The sad irony is, their work is made more difficult by the recent violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Maybe while we're learning more about bonobos, a little emulation wouldn't be out of order.