Monday, October 13, 2008

"Loving" chimpanzee eats its victims alive, new research shows

"Don't be fooled by their reputation for altruism and free love – bonobos hunt and kill other monkeys just like their more vicious chimpanzees cousins, according to new research," Ewen Callaway tells us in New Scientist (13 October 2008), revealing that
"Bonobos are merciless," says Gottfried Hohmann, a behavioural ecologist at Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. He witnessed several monkey hunts among bonobos living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and says, "they catch it and start eating it. They don't bother to kill it".

Yet unlike chimps, bonobos live in female-centred societies where sex, not aggression, settles differences and enforces social order.
I'd wondered when all that "bonobos could teach humans a thing or two" stuff would finally hit the bottom of the vast circular file of pop science.

The rest of the article features people talking around an inconvenient discovery. My favourite line: "Some anthropologists suggest that in the million or so years that separate bonobos from chimps, bonobos lost their appetite for violence."

Gentle reader, remind me of that if they are ever ripping us both to pieces, eating as they go.

See "A defense of Apes r us - an insider look at the pygmy chimpanzee enthusiasts" for the "loving ape" view and "Apes R Not Us, and we have to get used to it, revisited!" for another recent skeptical article.