[monkeywire] Bonobos join forces to outdo chimps
temporary181 at stayfreemagazine.org
Mon Apr 9 22:04:25 EDT 2007
Bonobos join forces to outdo chimps
09 April 2007
We know them as the most highly sexed of all the apes. Now it appears
that the easy-going social life enjoyed by bonobos makes them better
at cooperating than their more aggressive chimp cousins.
Brian Hare of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues tested how well chimps and
bonobos coped with challenging social situations. Bonobos, they
found, were more likely to share a plate of food, using play or sex
to defuse social tensions. In contrast, chimps' more limited social
skills meant one individual was more likely to take all the food.
The researchers gave pairs of each species a task that required them
to work together to retrieve a food reward that neither could reach
alone. When the food was easily shared, both species quickly learned
to do this. But when the food was in a single bowl - making it easy
to monopolise - chimps were less willing to work together (Current
Biology, vol 17, p 619).
"It's so simple and obvious that no one's ever demonstrated it," says
Hare. "You can't cooperate if you can't share the spoils." The
flexibility that allows humans to work together evolved more from
social adeptness than high-powered reasoning, he suggests.
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