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‘Bad Boy’ Bonobos attract more mates

AFP – Humankind’s two closest primate relatives are often said to embody contrasting sides of our nature: peace-loving bonobos versus violence-prone chimpanzees.

But a new study out on Friday in Current Biology said it’s not that simple. Male bonobos in fact fight each other more often than male chimps do – and the bonobo “bad boys” who have more dust-ups also see greater mating success.

Lead author Maud Mouginot of Boston University told AFP she decided to investigate the question of aggression among bonobos after prior research revealed a “reproductive skew” among males, meaning some fathered far more offspring than others.

“So the question was, if bonobos are not that aggressive, how can they have such a high reproductive skew?” she said.

Since their recognition as a species distinct from chimpanzees, bonobos have been romanticised for their free-spirited nature.

Researchers had previously attempted to compare aggression between the two species, which share 99.6 per cent of their DNA with each other, but these studies were limited because they used differing methods in the field.

Mouginot and her colleagues focused on three communities at the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and two chimpanzee communities at Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

A Bonobo at an animal park Planckendael in Muizen, Belgium. PHOTO: AFP