September 23 , 2016 / 5 minutes, 15 seconds


Author: Annette K. Scott

Most humans know that we are closest to mammals or monkeys, chimpanzees, and orangutans more than anything else.  Specifically, the bonobo chimpanzee is 98.7%-99%(slight arguments arise) like humans, the closest in the evolutionary scale like us. What are the differences and what makes us superior or are we?   

The bonobo, formerly called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee, is an endangered great ape and one of the two species making up the genus Pan.  The bonobo is distinguished by relatively long legs, pink lips, dark face and tail-tuft through adulthood, and parted long hair on its head; good looking they are.  Along with the common chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest extant relative to humans. 

They’re of African descent, specifically first discovered around 1929 in a German museum but first seen on the Congo river in the 1950’s.  They typically live around 40 years old in the wild however suffer from extinction now as their placement on the south Congo river separated them from other chimpanzee’s at the north of the river.  They’re also threatened by poaching.  The bonobo is an omnivorous frugivorous; 57% of its diet is fruit, but this is supplemented with leaves, honey, eggs, meat from small vertebrates, and invertebrates.  In some instances, bonobos have been shown to consume lower-order primates.  The small percentile difference in DNA which is coded as 2 for humans and 2a/2b for Bonobos is what creates a surmountable difference.  Yet that tiny portion of unshared DNA makes a world of difference:  it gives us, for instance, our bipedal stance and the ability to plan and coordinate intellectual functions.   

They’re a matriarchal society who are capable of compassion, altruism, empathy, kindness, and patience.  They are far less aggressive than their chimpanzee counterparts who will attack and kill other chimps who they sense nearing their camp.  Now here’s where it gets interesting, Bonobos are sex obsessed!!!!!!  Here comes the tie in to yoga-in terms of an outsider threat they would rather bring them in and have sex with them than kill them; make love not war? 

Sexual Facts

  • They use sex as a greeting, getting to know you, when they’re hungry, conflict resolution, hanging out, pretty much everything. 
  • They are the only non-humans to have face to face sex, tongue kissing, and oral sex. 
  • The females are large and in charge as they have so many sexual partners the males often don’t know which ones their children are. 
  • They don’t get mad; they just keep moving. 
  • They don’t have monogamous relationships and don’t discriminate due to age; however, the mothers don’t have sex with their sons.  There’s also female on female and male on male sexual behavior. 
  • They do it, they it often, they do it with everyone, and apparently they like it.

 However, one thing that has been documented about the sexual habits of the primate is that they seem to use it often as conflict avoidance or resolution.  Anything that results in excitement of any kind seems to result in sexual contact.  Such as when they’re presented with food, everyone gets aroused and either has sex, oral sex, kisses, or rubs against one another for 5-10 minutes, then they eat.  The jury is still out on whether humans and bonobos share the exact same propensity for sex.  However, we do seem to share a similar desire for conflict resolution.  We also seem to have a more discriminatory brain that can refrain from engaging in conflict and choose not only the primate urge for sex but yoga, meditation, and kindness in non-combative forms; see what I did there?

 Written by Kristen Carla Blogger/Acupuncture Physician

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