Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Developmental delay may explain behavior of easygoing bonobo apes

Date:
January 29, 2010
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
New research suggests that evolutionary changes in cognitive development underlie the extensive social and behavioral differences that exist between two closely related species of great apes. The study enhances our understanding of our two closest living relatives, chimpanzees and the lesser-known bonobos, and may provide key insight into human evolution.

Bonobo relaxing on a branch.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ronald Van Der Beek

New research suggests that evolutionary changes in cognitive development underlie the extensive social and behavioral differences that exist between two closely related species of great apes. The study, published online on January 28th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, enhances our understanding of our two closest living relatives, chimpanzees and the lesser-known bonobos, and may provide key insight into human evolution.

Related Articles


Although chimpanzees and bonobos have a very close genetic relationship with each other, the two species display major differences in their physical appearance, behavior, and cognition. For example, when compared to chimpanzees, bonobos seem to be much more peaceful and easygoing, retaining juvenile levels of play as adults, exhibiting low levels of aggression towards one another, and being much more likely than adult chimpanzees to share resources. It has been suggested that these differences might be a result of species-specific shifts in the developmental pathways that link infancy with adulthood.

"Thus far, there has been no direct test of the hypothesis that certain aspects of behavior or cognition in adult bonobos represent developmentally delayed forms of the traits found in chimpanzees," explains the lead study author, Victoria Wobber of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. "We tested this hypothesis by comparing skills of semi-free-ranging infant, juvenile, and adult bonobos and chimpanzees in three feeding competition tasks, given the prediction that this area in particular differs between the two species."

Wobber and colleagues observed that as chimpanzees reached adulthood, they became more and more intolerant of sharing food, whereas bonobos retained juvenile levels of food-related tolerance. Furthermore, chimpanzees consistently outperformed bonobos of the same age in tests where the subjects had to out which experimenters held a food reward. "Bonobos took longer to develop the same skill level shown even among the youngest of the chimpanzees that were tested," says Wobber. "It seemed as if adult chimpanzees were able to exhibit more social restraint than adult bonobos."

The findings support the hypothesis that developmental delays play a role in shaping differences in the social psychology and behavior of chimpanzees and bonobos. "Taken together, our results indicate that these social and cognitive differences between these two closely related species result from evolutionary changes in brain development," says Wobber. "Intriguingly, it has been suggested that the crucial cognitive adaptation of humans relative to other apes may be the accelerated development of social skills in infants. If we can understand the evolutionary processes by which developmental changes occurred in bonobos, perhaps inferences can be made about our own species' evolution."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Victoria Wobber, Richard Wrangham, and Brian Hare. Bonobos Exhibit Delayed Development of Social Behavior and Cognition Relative to Chimpanzees. Current Biology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.070

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Developmental delay may explain behavior of easygoing bonobo apes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100128130217.htm>.
Cell Press. (2010, January 29). Developmental delay may explain behavior of easygoing bonobo apes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100128130217.htm
Cell Press. "Developmental delay may explain behavior of easygoing bonobo apes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100128130217.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins