Siamang, Orangutan, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Bonobo,
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Next we come to the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee, not because they are small -- they are not -- but because they live near the Pygmy people of the Congo Basin, who are known for their small stature).  Bonobos are "the chimps of the Pygmies."  Note the glaring error on the UN map of Africa below where, trying to avoid the word "pygmy," they coin the phrase "dwarf chimpanzees."  Alas.

If anthropologists and primatologists had to select one great ape which was behaviorally closest to humans, it would likely be the bonobo because of similarity in both social and sexual behaviors.  We are, however, more like the common chimpanzees in other respects, such as practicing "gang warfare" on neighbors.


Also see the Bonobo page on evolution.

 Lana, 25,  Kesi at 2 monthsfemale bonobo with infant Kanzi at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa

Kanzi, 25, male bonobo, language-reared

Nyota, 7, male bonobo

 Lana, 25,  Kesi at 2 months
SDZoo newborn video

Note the playfaces.


Kanzi, 25, male bonobo


Nyota, 7, male bonobo

  Lana, 25,  Kesi at 2 months

  Yenge ♂         Lana, 25,  Kesi at 2 months
Nyota, 7, male bonobo

Kanzi's screams of delight when hosed down on a hot day in Iowa.


 Lana ♀, Kesi


adult male bonobo, SD Zoo




This juvenile bonobo was leaping up against a wall so as to rebound off of it and turn a sommersalt.













































Students and teachers are welcome to borrow these low-resolution photos for non-commercial uses.  There is no need to ask permission, just  "Photo credit"   Right-click on an image and save it to disk.   Except as noted, all photographs are by William H. Calvin.














Chimp-bonobo video from the PBS Evolution series
(for which I was a science advisor).

map by Dennis O'NeilDennis O'Neil's general descriptions of the apes and their vocalizations (from which I have borrowed the small maps; the big one below is from the UNEP). 

Great Ape Trust

My bonobo evolution page.


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William H. Calvin is a neurobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who wanders regularly into anthropology, evolution, and climate change.  He is the author of A Brain for All Seasons, winner of the Phi Beta Kappa 2002 Book Award for contributions to literature by scientists.


Go to:  Gibbon, Siamang, Orangutan, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Bonobo

copyright 2005 by William H. Calvin

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