Bonobos have always fascinated me. They are the hippies of the primate world. Peace, free love, and hairy bodies. And genetically they happen to be our closest relatives, along with chimpanzees, who are much more warlike. Which direction will we go?
Bonobos may be more like us than we thought. According to an article in the Harvard Gazette entitled, “Differing diets of bonobo groups offer insights into how culture is created”, they do, in fact, have a rudimentary culture going on. I’m intrigued.
It seems that scientists studied two bands of bonobos in the Congo for five years. These bands lived and hunted in the same forest. They were genetically identical. They hunted with the same size hunting parties and displayed the same amount of teamwork. And yet the two groups had two different food preferences.
All things being equal, that had to be a learned behavior or, at the very least, different cravings. Which amounts to culture. Isn’t that astounding?
It’s now believed that since bonobos have the beginnings of culture, and we of course do as well, then our earlier, common ancestor must have had it, too. I wonder what their culture was like? I love the idea that someday we might learn the answer to that question. Who knows what archeologists will dig up next?
Science rocks. Just sayin’. And all this talk has me craving Chinese food.
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