break-from-the-usual Friday: bonobos!

Bonobos are a species of chimp, and were for a long time confused with the common chimpanzee. Bonobos are awesome for many reasons:

1) Whereas common chimps solve interpersonal and intergroup problems with violence, bonobos solve them with sex. Human tend to do some of both, and are about equally related to both bonobos and common chimps. Overemphasizing our similarities to common chimps makes us look like nastier critters than we actually are, and remembering our relation to bonobos is something of a check on that self-image. (It’s not that we’re *not* violent, as a species. We have plenty of capacity for violence, and also plenty of capacity for intimacy, love, and yes, lots of gettin’ it on.)

2) Male bonobos are nice and gentle, unlike chimp males who tend to be aggressive. This is because female bonobos have, over evolutionary time, formed female-female coalitions that prevent aggressive male bonobos from gaining sexual access to females. So they didn’t get to have little future-aggressive bonobo sons.

3) Momma bonobos play airplane.

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