BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A recent study developed by researchers from Duke University highlights the humane social behavior of bonobos. The apes are willing to help other unknown specimens get food, and will do it anytime on their own, without being asked to.
Bonobos are extremely altruistic
For the study, researchers took 16 bonobos from the sanctuary Lola Ya Bonobo in Congo, and had them enter a room divided by a fence from a different room. In the room beyond the fence, there was an apple hanging down from the ceiling on a rope. The only way the apes could reach it was by climbing the fence.
If they did it, the apple would fall from the rope right in the way of any other bonobo present in the room. This is when the researchers noticed the interesting behavior. The bonobos were more likely to reach out for the apple if they weren’t alone. By releasing the fruit, they helped the other specimens get it without making any effort. In fact, they did it by themselves, without the intervention of the others.
Bonobos might have evolved into kinder beings to get accepted into groups
The findings were complementary to the results of an older study, which found that bonobos were likely to share their food with other individuals. What is remarkable is the fact that, both during this study and the older one, bonobos showed an altruistic behavior towards specimen they didn’t previously know.
Other experiments showed bonobos imitating contagious behaviors, such as yawning, after watching both known and unknown specimens do it. Therefore, researchers concluded that this behavior came unconsciously to them. They couldn’t tell if this is indeed a social trait or just empathy, but it was clear that the apes were able to respond positively to strangers.
The behavior is most likely a product of evolution, as being nice to strangers allowed them to enter new groups, and assured their survival. All the details of the study have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
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