Bonobos predisposed to show sensitivity to others

Jan 30, 2013
Female Bonobo. Image: Wikipedia.

Comforting a friend or relative in distress may be a more hard-wired behavior than previously thought, according to a new study of bonobos, which are great apes known for their empathy and close relation to humans and chimpanzees. This finding provides key evolutionary insight into how critical social skills may develop in humans. The results are published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, observed juvenile bonobos at the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary in the engaging in consolation behavior more than their adult counterparts. Juvenile bonobos (ages 3 to 7) are equivalent to preschool or elementary school-aged children.

Zanna Clay, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Emory's Department of Psychology, and Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at Yerkes and C.H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory, led the study.

"Our findings suggest that for bonobos, sensitivity to the emotions of others emerges early and does not require advanced that develop only in adults," Clay says.

Starting at around age two, human children usually display consolation behavior, a sign of sensitivity to the emotions of others and the ability to take the perspective of another. Consolation has been observed in humans, bonobos, and other animals, including dogs, elephants and some types of birds, but has not been seen in monkeys.

At the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary, most bonobos come as juvenile or infant orphans because their parents are killed for meat or captured as pets. A minority of bonobos in the sanctuary is second generation and raised by their biological mothers. The researchers found bonobos raised by their own mothers were more likely to comfort others compared to orphaned bonobos. This may indicate early interferes with development of consolation behavior, while a stable parental relationship encourages it, Clay says.

Clay observed more than 350 conflicts between bonobos at the sanctuary during several months. Some conflicts involved violence, such as hitting, pushing or grabbing, while others only involved threats or chasing. Consolation occurred when a third bonobo – usually one that was close to the scene of conflict – comforted one of the parties in the conflict.

Consolation behavior includes hugs, grooming and sometimes sexual behavior. Consolation appears to lower stress in the recipient, based on a reduction in the recipient's rates of self-scratching and self-grooming, the authors write.

"We found strong effects of friendship and kinship, with bonobos being more likely to comfort those they are emotionally close to," Clay says. "This is consistent with the idea that empathy and emotional sensitivity contribute to consolation behavior."

In future research, Clay plans to take a closer look at the emergence of consolation behavior in bonobos at early ages. A process that may facilitate development of consolation behavior is when older bonobos use younger ones as teddy bears; their passive participation may get the younger used to the idea, she says.

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Telekinetic
3.7 / 5 (18) Jan 30, 2013
The bonobo has retained his natural instincts for the caring and consolation of his fellow primates. Can humans say the same? When twenty children were killed in the Newtown massacre, the dialogue almost immediately devolved into a defensive posturing for MORE gun ownership, where these NRA nuts exhibited little if any horror at these senseless deaths. The reaction of empathy is critical for the survival of the species, because without it, murder becomes a non-event. The human race is heading in the opposite direction of the bonobo.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (22) Jan 30, 2013
Hello human-hater

"known for their empathy and close relation to humans and chimpanzees."

-The more the bonobos are studied by scientists without the jaundiced attitudes of the above space cadet, the more they will realize that they are just as tribal as any other advanced primate. Which means they are prone to showing empathy toward fellow tribal members in conjunction with healthy animosity toward competing tribes.

"LONDON -- Despite their reputation as lovers not fighters of the primate world, bonobos actually hunt and eat other great apes, German researchers said Monday.

"over five years of observing a group of bonobos the researchers recorded about 10 instances when a group of the apes set out on hunting trips in search of chimpanzees.

"Each time the bonobos silently crept through the woods on the ground, trying to get underneath a group of chimps before clambering up a tree in a sudden attack, the researchers said."
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (21) Jan 30, 2013
"The bonobo hunts were successful on fewer than half the excursions and in some cases shared the meat, evidence they were willing to share to encourage group hunting..."

Ambush hunting chimp competitors = war. Sharing with tribal members = compassion.

And like our forebears they are very judicious in protein conservation. Why leave all that good meat on the battlefield? Cannibalism was practiced in borneo and elsewhere into the 20th century. For the same reasons.

Bonobos and humans both are usually very peaceful after they have subdued the enemy. It could be that bonobos are observed in this state more because they are better at establishing it. More intelligent. More able to scheme and cooperate and communicate.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (20) Jan 30, 2013
"There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection" (Darwin)

"Read (1920) contended that hominids and early humans formed hunting packs that were predisposed to be aggressive toward all outsiders. "Wars strengthened the internal sympathies and loyalties of the pack or tribe and its external antipathies, and extended the range and influence of the more virile and capable tribes"."
http://rechten.el...RID2.pdf
Telekinetic
3.6 / 5 (14) Jan 30, 2013
Always looking for proof of your psychotic view of pruning populations by the behavior of tribes and tribal instincts. It just doesn't hold up. Why didn't you include the title of the article you cited: "Hippie Apes Make War as Well As Love..."
You didn't because their primary behavior IS gentle, so you cherry- picked ten acts of aggression over a five year period to paint them as murderous as any other primate. Disingenuous to say the least, like everything else you post as your alter ego FrankHerbert. You're cracked.
Whydening Gyre
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2013
When twenty children were killed in the Newtown massacre, the dialogue almost immediately devolved into a defensive posturing for MORE gun ownership, where these NRA nuts exhibited little if any horror at these senseless deaths. The reaction of empathy is critical for the survival of the species, because without it, murder becomes a non-event.

Tele,
I laud the compassion you show. and I even agree with you on a certain level of gun control. However, the actions of the NRA and gun "fanatics" are non-sequitor when viewed against the action of the President. He proposes bans on assault weapons and accessories that make regular weaponry (hunting rifles and pistols) more "assaulting" in nature. He also proposes limiting access by those not qualified to own/use those weapons.
Probably not enough, but we need to accept it for now.
THe real challenge will be in gaining awareness of who has access to illegal or even regular weaponry, along with judicious enforcement of the rules.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (13) Jan 31, 2013
Hello again human-hater
Always looking for proof of your psychotic view of pruning populations by the behavior of tribes and tribal instincts. It just doesn't hold up.
-According to you or according to the distinguished scientists in the van der dennen paper you didn't read?

The study above was done in a sanctuary.

"Lola ya Bonobo means 'paradise for bonobos' ...home to 52 bonobos who live in 30 hectares of primary forest...When bonobos are confiscated by the police, there must be somewhere to put them... With a sanctuary, not only is there a safe, rich environment where the rescued orphans can live a normal life, but some of these orphans may eventually be reintroduced into the wild."

-with domesticated animals. An artificial environment. But altruism does exist in the wild as goodall and others have noted.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (16) Jan 31, 2013
Why didn't you include the title of the article you cited: "Hippie Apes Make War as Well As Love..."
You didn't because their primary behavior IS gentle
What do you mean by 'primary'? You mean they initially wanted to make friends with their chimp enemies but then decided to kill them and eat them? Their behavior is like that of any other tribal animal - internal altruism coupled with external animosity. Tribal morality.
so you cherry- picked
I did? Are you confusing me with the scientists who did the study and published the results? They were studying animals in the wild where competition over resources creates conflict. Bonobos are obviously very skilled at dealing with their chimp competitors. IN THE WILD. And they are our closest relatives.
FrankHerbert2
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 31, 2013
Enjoy your fives telekinetic. They're probably the only ones you'll ever get from me.

Does that mean I'm your sockpuppet too?
Telekinetic
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 04, 2013
"Their behavior is like that of any other tribal animal - internal altruism coupled with external animosity. Tribal morality."-Ghost

" As J.M.G. Van der Dennen writes in his book The Origins of War, for example, 'Genocide, genocidal warfare, massacres, cruelty and sadism are virtually absent in the animal world'. Apart from the killing of prey and the occasional practice of infanticide, the only type of violence which occurs amongst animals is what Van der Dennen calls 'ritualised interindividual agonistic behaviour' - in other words, aggression between the members of groups, usually connected to dominance or mating issues. But even here, actual fighting is quite rare. In fact most animals go to great lengths to avoid fighting. As the zoologist Glenn Weisfeld notes, 'The animal usually threatens its opponent intiially, as by hissing, vocalising, teeth-baring. Attack comes as a last resort."

Your boy seems to be contradicting you. Some remedial reading classes for you, yes?