Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape

Photography by FRANS LANTING 

University of California Press 

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The Last Ape 

When the lively, penetrating eyes lock with ours and challenge
us to reveal who we are, we know right away that we are not
looking at a "mere" animal, but at a creature of considerable
intellect with a secure sense of its place in the world. We are
meeting a member of the same tailless, flat-chasted,
long-armed primate family to which we ourselves and only a
handful of other species belong. We feel the age-old connection
before we can stop to think, as people are wont to do, how
different we are. 

Bonobos will not let us indulge in this thought for long: in
everything they do, they resemble us. A complaining youngster
will pout his lips like an unhappy child or stretch out an open
hand to beg for food. In the midst of sexual intercourse, a female
may squeal with apparent pleasure. And at play, bonobos utter
coarse laughs when their partners tickle their bellies or armpits.
There is no escape, we are looking at an animal so akin to
ourselves that the dividing line is seriously blurred. 

Whereas the bonobo amazes and delights many people, the
implications of its behavior for theories of human evolution are
sometimes inconvenient. These apes fail to fit traditional
scenarios, yet they are as close to us as chimpanzees, the
species on which much ancestral human behavior has been
modeled. Had bonobos been known earlier, reconstructions of
human evolution might have emphasized sexual relations,
equality between males and females, and the origin of the
family, instead of war, hunting, tool technology, and other
masculine fortes. Bonobo society seems ruled by the "Make
Love, Not War" slogan of the 1960s rather than the myth of a
bloodthirsty killer ape that has dominated textbooks for at least
three decades. 


In 1925, Raymond Dart announced the discovery of
Australopithecus africanus, a crucial missing link in the human
fossil record. This bipedal hominid with apelike features brought
the human lineage considerably closer to that of the apes than
previously held possible. It also provided the first indication that
Charles Darwin had been correct in suggesting Africa, rather
than Asia or Europe, as the cradle of humanity. 

On the basis of evidence encountered at the discovery site, Dart
speculated that Australopithecus must have been a carnivore
who ate his prey alive, dismembering them limb from limb,
slaking his thirst with their warm blood. The killer-ape myth is the
science writer Robert Ardrey's dramatization of these and other
ideas, including the proposition that war derives from hunting,
and that cultural progress is impossible without aggressivity.
The renowned ethologist Konrad Lorenz added that whereas
"professional" predators, such as lions and wolves, evolved
powerful inhibitions keeping them from turning their weaponry
against their own kind, humans have unfortunately not had time
to evolve in this direction. Descended from vegetarian
ancestors, we became meat-eaters almost overnight. As a
result, our species lacks the appropriate checks and balances
on intraspecific killing. 

It has been suggested that the tremendous appeal of this
scenario had more to do with the genocide of World War II than
with fossil finds. Confidence in human nature was at a low after
the war, and the popularizations of Ardrey and Lorenz merely
reinforced the misanthropic mood. In A View to a Death in the
Morning, Matt Cartmill summarizes the impact of the by now
antiquated idea that the lust to kill has made us what we are: 

During the 1960s, the central propositions of the hunting
hypothesis--that hunting and its selection pressures had
made men and women out of apelike ancestors, instilled a
taste for violence in them, estranged them from the animal
kingdom, and excluded them from the order of
nature--became familiar themes of the national culture,
and the picture of Homo sapiens as a mentally
unbalanced predator, threatening an otherwise
harmonious natural realm became so pervasive that it
ceased to provoke comment.... Millions of moviegoers in
1968 absorbed Dart's whole theory in one stunning image
from Stanley Kubrick's film 2001, in which an
australopithecine who had just used a zebra femur to
commit the world's first murder hurls the bone gleefully in
the air--and it turns into an orbiting spacecraft. 

Ironically, it is now believed that Australopithecus, 
rather than having been a predator himself, was a 
favorite food for large carnivores. The damage to fossil skulls, 
which Dart interpreted as evidence for club-wielding man-apes, 
turns out to be perfectly consistent with predation by 
leopards and hyenas. In all likelihood, therefore, 
the beginnings of our lineage were marked more by fear 
than ferocity.  


Bonobos are not on their way to becoming human any more
than we are on our way to becoming like them. Both of us are
well-established, highly evolved species. We can learn
something about ourselves from watching bonobos, though,
because our two species share an ancestor, who is believed to
have lived a "mere" six million years or so ago. Possibly,
bonobos have retained traits of this ancestor that we find hard to
recognize in ourselves, or that we are not used to contemplating
in an evolutionary light. 

Not too long ago, a much more distant relative, the savanna
baboon, was regarded as the best living model of ancestral
human behavior. These ground-dwelling primates are adapted
to the sort of ecological conditions that protohominids must have
faced after they descended from the trees. The baboon model
was largely abandoned, however, when it became clear that a
number of fundamental human characteristics are absent or only
minimally developed in them, yet present in chimpanzees.
Cooperative hunting, food-sharing, tool use, power politics, and
primitive warfare have been observed in chimpanzees, who are
also capable of learning symbolic communication, such as sign
language, in the laboratory. Moreover, these apes recognize
themselves in mirrors--an index of self-awareness for which
there is thus far little or no evidence in monkeys. Like us, of
course, chimpanzees belong to the Hominoidea, a branch that
split off long ago from the rest of the primate tree. They are thus
genetically much closer to us than are baboons. 

Whereas selection of the chimpanzee as the touchstone of
human evolution represented a great improvement over the
baboon, one aspect of the models did not need to be adjusted:
male superiority remained the "natural" state of affairs. In both
chimpanzees and baboons, males are conspicuously dominant
over females. In baboons, males are not only twice the size of
females, they are equipped with canine teeth as formidable as a
panther's, whereas females lack such weaponry. Sexual
dimorphism may be less dramatic in the chimpanzee, but in this
species, too, males reign supreme, and often brutally. It is
extremely unusual for a fully grown, healthy male chimpanzee to
be dominated by a female. 

Enter the bonobo, which is best characterized as a
female-centered, egalitarian primate species that substitutes
sex for aggression. It is impossible to understand the social life
of this ape without attention to its sex life: the two are
inseparable. Whereas in most other species, sexual behavior is
a fairly distinct category, in the bonobo it has become an
integral part of social relationships, and not just between males
and females. Bonobos engage in sex in virtually every partner
combination: male-male, male-female, female-female,
male-juvenile, female-juvenile, and so on. The frequency of
sexual contact is also higher than among most other primates. 

The bonobo's rate of reproduction is low, however. In the wild, it
is approximately the same as that of the chimpanzee, with single
births to a female at intervals of around five years. This
combination of sexual appetite and slow reproduction sounds
familiar, of course: nonreproductive sex is a prominent trait of
our own species. 

If the sole purpose of sex is procreation, as some religious
doctrines would have it, why has the average size of families in
industrialized nations dropped to fewer than two children,
despite the fact that countless human couples in those countries
copulate regularly? Perhaps they do so because it feels good,
hence tends to become addictive. Yet this automatically raises
the question: Why does it have this effect on people? After all,
most other animals restrict their mating activity to a particular
season or a couple of days in their ovulatory cycles; they do not
seem to feel any sexual needs divorced from reproduction. 

The bonobo, with its varied, almost imaginative, eroticism, may
help us see sexual relations in a broader context. Certain
aspects of human sexuality, such as pleasure, love, and
bonding, tend to be overlooked by reproduction-oriented
ideologies. The possibility that these aspects have
characterized our lineage from very early on has serious
implications, given how often moralizing relies on claims about
the naturalness or unnaturalness of behavior: what is natural is
generally equated with what is good and acceptable. The truth is
that if bonobo behavior provides any hints, very few human
sexual practices can be dismissed as "unnatural." 

Because the role of sex in society is such a loaded and
controversial issue, scientists have tended to downplay this side
of bonobo behavior, whereas the few journalists who have
written about the species have naturally hyped it. In this book, I
hope to strike a balance: I intend to give the topic the attention it
deserves, without reducing bonobos to the lustful satyrs that our
closest relations once were considered to be. Sexual
encounters of the bonobo kind are strikingly casual, almost
more affectionate than erotic. If the apes themselves are so
relaxed about it, it seems inappropriate for us to give in to
typically human obsessions. In addition, there is a lot more to
bonobo natural history than sex. The entire social organization of
the species is fascinating, as is its mode of communication,
raising of offspring, remarkable intelligence, and status in the
wild. The whole creature deserves attention, not just part of it. 

In the past few years, many different strands of knowledge have
come together concerning this most enigmatic ape. The findings
command attention, as the bonobo is just as close to us as its
sibling species, the chimpanzee. According to DNA analyses,
we share over 98 percent of our genetic material with each of
these two apes. And not only are they our nearest relatives; we
are theirs! That is, the genetic makeup of a chimpanzee or
bonobo matches ours more closely than that of any other animal,
including other primates, such as gorillas, traditionally thought of
as closer to them than to us. 

No wonder Carl Linnaeus, who imposed the taxonomic division
between humans and apes, regretted his decision later in life.
The distinction is now regarded as wholly artificial. In terms of
family resemblance, only two options exist: either we are one of
them or they are one of us. 


Years ago, when the conservator of mammals at the Amsterdam
Zoological Museum happened to dust off the stuffed remains of
an ape named "Mafuca," he immediately recognized its bonobo
features despite the label, which said it was a chimpanzee.
During Mafuca's short life, from 1911 through 1916, bonobos
were not yet recognized as a separate species, even though a
few keen observers already had an inkling of the difference. 

In 1916, a perceptive Dutch naturalist, Anton Portielje,
speculated in a guide to the Amsterdam Zoo that the hugely
popular Mafuca might represent a new primate species. A few
years later, Robert Yerkes, the American pioneer of ape
research, contrasted "Prince Chim," an individual now known to
have been a bonobo, with a chimpanzee, noting: "Complete
descriptions of the physique of the two animals might suggest
the query as to whether they were both chimpanzees." For all
intents and purposes, therefore, the species distinction between
bonobo and chimpanzee ought to be credited to behavioral
scientists such as Portielje and Yerkes. 

It was only when anatomists reached the same conclusion,
however, that the world paid attention. The distinction, first made
in 1929, carried tremendous weight: the bonobo became one of
the last large mammals to be known to science. Rather than in a
lush African setting, the historic discovery took place in a
colonial Belgian museum following the inspection of a skull that,
because it was undersized, was thought to have belonged to a
juvenile chimpanzee. In immature animals, however, the sutures
between skull bones ought to be separated, whereas in this
specimen they were fused. Concluding that it must have
belonged to an adult with an unusually small head, Ernst
Schwarz, a German anatomist, declared that he had stumbled
upon a new subspecies of chimpanzee. Soon the differences
were considered important enough to elevate the bonobo to the
status of an entirely new species, officially classified as Pan

Even though Schwarz's name became officially associated with
the species--the sort of honor biologists are willing to die for--a
far more detailed description was provided, in 1933, by Harold
Coolidge, an American anatomist. Half a century later, Coolidge
challenged Schwarz's priority. At an international conference of
primatologists in 1982, he claimed that he himself had been the
first to notice the unusual skull at the museum. In his excitement
he had shown it to the museum director, who allegedly told his
friend Schwarz two weeks later. Schwarz wasted no time
making the discovery public in an obscure journal published by
the museum. "I had been taxonomically scooped!" exclaimed
Coolidge at the symposium. Unfortunately, Schwarz's side to
this story remains unknown: the accusation came after his

Oddly enough, the bonobo's genus name, Pan, derives from the
Greek god of flocks, shepherds, and woods, who had a human
torso, but the legs, beard, ears, and horns of a goat. Playfully
lecherous, Pan loved to chase the nymphs and played the
shepherd's flute, an obvious phallic symbol. The suffix to the
species name of the bonobo, paniscus, qualifies it as
diminutive. The other member of the same genus, the
chimpanzee, carries the species name troglodytes, or cave
dweller. So we are dealing with rather peculiar epithets for
animals adapted to the trees, with the bonobo being labeled a
small herder deity and the chimpanzee a grotto herder deity. 

Since the bonobo and chimpanzee are close relatives, and
since the latter is more familiar, the two species are sometimes
taken together as two kinds of chimpanzee. Thus, the bonobo is
also known as the "bonobo chimpanzee" or "pygmy
chimpanzee." Unfortunately, this usage has forced the name
"common chimpanzee" upon the chimpanzee--a questionable
label for an endangered animal. Furthermore, some scientists
object to "pygmy chimpanzee" as inaccurate (there is
considerable overlap in size between chimpanzees and
bonobos), as well as making it sound too much as if the bonobo
is merely a smaller version of its congener. Others, in turn, say
the name "bonobo" is meaningless and probably derives from a
misspelling on a shipping crate of "Bolobo," a town in Zaire. 

The label "bonobo" has stuck, though, not least because it
respects its bearer as a fully distinct species, rather than as, so
to speak, the poor man's miniature chimp. In addition, "bonobo"
has a happy ring to it that befits the animal's nature.
Primatologists acquainted with its behavior have even jokingly
begun to employ the name as a verb, as in "We're gonna
bonobo tonight." (The meaning of this expression will be left to
the reader's imagination!) 

To complete these notes on the discovery of the last ape, it has
recently come to light that, ironically, the bonobo may have been
known to science longer than any other great ape. The earliest
accurate description of an ape was produced, in 1641, by
Nicolaas Tulp, a Dutch anatomist of great repute, immortalized
in Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson. The ape cadaver that Tulp
dissected resembled a human body so closely in its structural
details, musculature, organs, and so on, that he commented that
it would be hard to find one egg more like another. Although Tulp
baptized his specimen an Indian satyr, adding that the local
people called it an "orang-outang," it had come straight from
Africa. Only its name came from the East Indies (in Malay orang
hutan means "man of the forest"). 

Tulp's gravure, faithfully replicated over and over in books of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, appears to show a
female chimpanzee. At least this was the consensus until a
British primatologist, Vernon Reynolds, asserted that Tulp's
satyr could very well have been a bonobo. Reynolds's chief
argument was that the original drawing shows a cutaneous
connection between the second and third digits of the ape's
right foot. Such "webbing" between toes is much more common
in bonobos than in chimpanzees. Furthermore, Tulp's specimen
was known to have originated in Angola. Although no bonobos
live there today, Angola is south of the Zaire River. This
immense, at times more than one-kilometer-wide water barrier
currently fully separates chimpanzees, to the north, east, and
west, from bonobos, to the south. 


Yerkes greatly admired his bonobo's character and intelligence,
writing: "I have never met an animal the equal of Prince Chim in
approach to physical perfection, alertness, adaptability, and
agreeableness of disposition." 

Much has been made of this opinion of one of the greatest
authorities on ape psychology. Before accepting Yerkes's
enthusiasm for Chim as a blanket statement about the species,
however, we should realize that the scientist seriously
underestimated his subject's age. The slight build of the bonobo
led him to believe that Chim was only three years old, whereas a
postmortem inspection by Coolidge indicated an age closer to
six. In the same way that a child twice the age of another is
mentally far ahead, Chim may have come across as brilliant
compared to the chimpanzee, Panzee, with whom he was
raised. Moreover, Panzee suffered from tuberculosis, another
serious disadvantage compared to the healthy Chim. Yerkes
himself fully realized the limitations of his comparison, stating
that intelligence, temperament, and character very much depend
on physical constitution. 

Unfortunately, these reservations are rarely mentioned when
Yerkes's high regard for Chim is cited in support of claims that
bonobos are extraordinarily intelligent. There is no doubt in my
mind that they are, but whether their intelligence exceeds that of
other apes remains an open question. Simian IQs are about as
contentious an issue as human IQs. For one thing, there is great
individual variability: comparing a few bonobos with a few
chimpanzees is not going to tell us much. I know some
exceptionally bright anthropoids, but certainly not all of them are
bonobos. At this point it is not at all clear in which cognitive
areas, if any, the bonobo systematically outshines other apes. 

The first study of substance comparing bonobos and
chimpanzees was carried out in the 1930s at the Hellabrunn Zoo
in Munich. It took Eduard Tratz and Heinz Heck until after World
War II to publish their findings, based on an inspection of the
preserved bodies of three apes and film footage collected
during their lives: terrified by the city's bombardment during the
war, all three bonobos had died of heart failure. Tratz and
Heck's eight-point list of behavioral differences between the two
Pan species still stands as the first outline of the areas of
greatest contrast: sexual behavior, intensity of aggression, and
vocal expression. Here follows their list in slightly compressed

1. Bonobos are sensitive, lively, and nervous, whereas
chimpanzees are coarse and hot-tempered. 

2. Bonobos rarely raise their hair; chimpanzees often do

3. Physical violence almost never occurs in bonobos, yet
is common in chimpanzees. 

4. Bonobos defend themselves through aimed kicking with
their feet, whereas chimpanzees try to pull attackers close
to bite them. 

5. The bonobo voice contains a and e vowels, whereas
the chimpanzee uses more u and o vowels. 

6. Bonobos are more vocal than chimpanzees. 

7. Bonobos stretch their arms and shake their hands when
calling, whereas chimpanzees do not. 

8. Bonobos copulate more hominum and chimpanzees
more canum. 

Given what we know now, points 1 through 4 are undoubtedly
correct. Even though the difference in aggressivity is one of
degree only, it cannot be denied that the treatment to which
chimpanzees occasionally subject one another, including biting
and full-force hitting, is rare among bonobos. Chimpanzees also
erect their hair at the slightest provocation, pick up a branch,
and challenge and intimidate anyone perceived as weaker than
themselves: they are very much into status. By bonobo
standards, the chimpanzee is a wild and untamed beast, or as
Tratz and Heck put it: "The bonobo is an extraordinarily
sensitive, gentle creature, far removed from the demoniacal
primitive force [Urkraft] of the adult chimpanzee." 

As regards point 5, Blanche Learned's pioneer (albeit unwitting)
comparison of vocal repertoires is worth noting. Before the
species difference was established, she listened with a musical
ear to Yerkes's two apes, Chim and Panzee. According to my
calculations from Learned's phonetic transcriptions of hundreds
of vocalizations, Chim mostly uttered a (48%), ae (38%), and oo
(10%) sounds, whereas Panzee mostly uttered oo (68%), o
(12%), and oa (7%) sounds. There is indeed no quicker way to
distinguish the two ape species than by their voices. When
Heck, who was the director of Hellabrunn Zoo, first heard
bonobo calls coming out of a cloth-covered crate, he was
convinced that he had received the wrong animals. Their calls
are so high-pitched and penetrating that they do not even
remind one of the typical drawn-out "huu ... huu" hooting of the
chimpanzee. The difference in timbre between the voices of the
two species may well be of the same magnitude as that
between a small child and a grown man. 

It is also true that bonobos tend to gesticulate when calling, and
that vocal activity among them is high. Bonobos are excitable
creatures who frequently "comment" on minor events around
them through high-pitched peeps and barks. Even if most of
these vocalizations are noticeable only at close range, one
definitely hears more vocal exchange in a group of bonobos
than in a group of chimpanzees. Chimpanzees call when
seriously alarmed, aroused by food, or in order to intimidate one
another. Few animals can produce the din characteristic of
chimpanzees, but much of it occurs on well-circumscribed

The final point concerns sexuality. Because Tratz and Heck
wrote before the sexual revolution, they felt the need to wrap
their shocking findings in Latin. In those days, face-to-face
copulation was regarded as uniquely human; a cultural
innovation reflecting the dignity and sensibility separating the
human race from "lower" life forms. The two zoologists claimed,
however, that whereas chimpanzees mate like dogs (more
canum), bonobos follow the human pattern (more hominum).
They added the important observation that the genitals of female
bonobos seem adapted to this position: the vulva is situated
between their legs rather than oriented to the back, as is the
case in chimpanzees. 

To this day, both academic and popular writers perpetuate
ridiculous claims about human mating patterns, penis size, and
general sexiness. The primary reason for overlooking the
considerable early knowledge about bonobos must have been
that most of it was unavailable in English. Who browses through
journals such as Saugetierkundliche Mitteilungen? Apart from
their role in the naming game (they were the first to propose
"bonobo"), Tratz and Heck were ignored and forgotten by the
scientific community. Another overlooked work is an admirably
detailed investigation at three European zoos by Claudia
Jordan, whose 1977 dissertation, "Das Verhalten zoolebender
Zwergschimpansen" (The Behavior of Zoo-living Pygmy
Chimpanzees), contains virtually all of the basic behavioral
information presented as new discoveries in the literature of
subsequent years. 

A second reason that little attention was paid to some of the
early studies was the tendency to dismiss unusual behavior in
zoo animals as artifacts of captivity. Could it be that bonobos
act so grotesquely because they are bored to death, or under
human influence? We know now that, except under extreme
conditions, the effects of captivity on behavior are less dramatic
than used to be assumed. Whatever the conditions under which
other primates are kept, they never act like bonobos. In other
words, it must be something in the species, rather than in the
environment, that produces the bonobo's characteristic
behavior. It was only when fieldwork got off the ground, however,
that the behavior-as-artifact explanation could be put to rest.
Research in the bonobo's natural habitat validated rather than
contradicted the pioneering observations of Yerkes, Tratz and
Heck, Learned, Jordan, and others. 

In 1974, Alison and Noel Badrian, a young couple of Irish and
South African extraction, bravely entered the remote jungles of
northern Zaire on their own, without financial backing. They
established a study site in Lomako Forest, which is still in use
today, although observation has been discontinuous and
conducted by a number of different scientists. The other main
study site in Zaire, established in the same year, has known
much greater continuity and has, as a result, become the
dominant source of information about wild bonobos. This site,
named Wamba, was founded by Takayoshi Kano of Kyoto
University, in Japan, after a five-month survey of the distribution
of Zaire's bonobo population. Transportation by other means
being virtually impossible in this region, Kano traveled
enormous distances on foot and by bicycle. 

These and other dedicated fieldworkers have advanced our
knowledge of bonobo behavior by giant strides, confirming the
significance and richness of these apes' sexual behavior and
putting their social organization in the context of the ecological
background to which it is adapted: the swampy rain forest
covering the flat basin of the Zaire River. Because wild bonobos
are extremely shy, it takes a long time to habituate them to
human presence. At Wamba, this problem was solved by a
technique widely employed with Japanese macaques in the
investigators' home country: food provisioning. By planting a few
hectares of sugarcane near their range, Kano was able to entice
bonobos out of the forest. At Lomako, such techniques have
never been employed. The Lomako site has therefore
something unique to offer: a look at the ranging and foraging
patterns of bonobos undisturbed by human provisioning. 

Despite the establishment of Wamba, Lomako, and a handful of
other field sites, bonobo research still lags far behind that on
chimpanzees in both scope and intensity. Over recent years,
however, interest has grown rapidly, not least because bonobos
seem to present a mirror-image of the traditional picture of our
primate relatives as male-dominated and violent. As a feminist
journalist for a nature magazine once put it to me: "Bonobos are
our only hope!" An ideological interest in the species may not
sound desirable to most scientists, yet so long as it leads to
scholarly, honest, and rigorous study, I do not see much wrong
with it. As a result of continued research, current impressions
and theories will either be confirmed or require revision, and we
shall gain a deeper understanding of why bonobos evolved the
sort of society that they live in. 

In the meantime, captive bonobos have become more attractive
for behavioral studies: zoo colonies now include more
individuals in more naturalistic enclosures than the single
individuals or small groups of the past. In addition, the apes live
longer than before. Bonobos are extremely susceptible to
respiratory disease: they used to survive only a couple of years
in captivity. With greater care and better nutrition, there now are
bonobos aged twenty, thirty, or older in zoos and research
institutions. The development towards improved survival and
larger social groupings began at the San Diego Zoo, where I
conducted my own research. This zoo started out very modestly,
in the early 1960s, with a single pair of bonobos: Kakowet and
Linda. These two were so prolific that they produced the
greatest number of children and grandchildren known of any
bonobo couple, captive or wild, in the world. Part of the reason
was that every newborn was taken away to the zoo nursery; this
allowed Linda to skip the long nursing period and deliver at
unusually short intervals: ten children in fourteen years. 

Not that this is a desirable procedure! Many of Linda's
newborns were featured on Johnny Carson's late-night television
show, and I feel they would have been better off with a little less
fame and a little more motherly love. Nowadays, zoos, including
the San Diego Zoo, do everything in their power to keep mother
and infant together. 

Linda is still alive (estimated to be around forty, she now lives
with one of her adult daughters at the Milwaukee County Zoo),
but Kakowet died years ago. Stories about the patriarch of zoo
bonobos abound. According to one, Ernst Schwarz was
overjoyed to hold Kakowet when he was still a small infant (his
name derives from the French word for peanut, cacahuete,
because he was so incredibly tiny). Having conducted all of his
taxonomic work with museum skeletons and skins, Schwarz had
never met a live bonobo. Standing with the ape on his arm, the
German anatomist was greeted by a woman who said: "So,
you're the man who named that funny little monkey." A shocking
thing to say to someone so familiar with the distinction between
monkeys and apes! 

Now that captive bonobos have become more interesting for
students of social behavior, and fieldwork is growing in both
quality and quantity, we are in a better situation than ever before
to summarize this ape's social life. Our knowledge is far from
perfect, but we know enough to drag the bonobo out of the
obscure corner in which primate specialists have been debating
its peculiarities among themselves. Its behavior is bound to
overthrow a number of cherished assumptions about the course
of human evolution. In addition, the species is fascinating in
itself; it fully deserves a place in the public mind alongside our
better-known ape relations. 

(C) 1997 The Regents of the University of California 
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-520-20535-9