• Scientific Name: Pan Paniscus
  • Taxonomic Classification: Family: Hominidae, Genus: Pan, Species: P. paniscus
  • Common Name: Bonobo
  • Physical Description: -Male: Average weight is 86.0 lbs. Average height is 2.65 feet. -Female: Average weight is 68.3 lbs. Average height is 2.4 feet. Both male and female have long limbs, which allow them to make athletic leaps and there is moderate sexual dimorphism between them. Bonobos have black hair, which appears to be parted on their head, and are born with a white tuff on their bottom. They use quadrupedal knuckle walking, brachiation, and some bipedalism to move around. The dental formula for a Bonobo is, which is similar to Old World monkeys. The brain of a Bonobo is large compared to the size of the body, about 18-24 cubic inches in size.
  • Geographic location and range: Bonobos are most commonly found in central Africa, specifically in the area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is 77,220 miles in size. Bonobos live in tropical forests, near rivers and swampy rainforests. These mammals live in communities of 50 to 120 individuals. These communities range an area of 7 to 22 miles.
  • Diet: Bonobos are tree dwellers. Most of their food comes from the trees; leaves, fruits, seeds, grasses, and vegetables. They are opportunistic feeders and omnivores. They are known to eat caterpillars; they feed on already killed animals such as antelopes, rodents and snakes. Bonobos even fish for crabs on rare occasions. They spend about 20% of their time foraging, and roughly 20% of the time feeding. When they forage on the forest floor they are known to travel up to 2 Km in a day.
  • Social Organization: Bonobos are very group orientated. They usually have 50-120 individuals in a group. Within the group they average about 5.4 members to a party. Females are the dominant sex in the community. Their mating system is polyandry . Females out number males in a 3:2 ratio. Sex is their primary social activity. It amounts to much more then reproduction or gratification. There is no true form of dominance in Bonobos. Affection is dominance, especially among females. They dominate the males in a community by offering their affection. They are not territorial, but they do fight over females; they make up for the fight with sexual affection.
  • Reproduction: There is no seasonality with Bonobos. They have one baby every 5 years. They become sexually mature at about 12 years of age. They have a 49 day menstrual cycle, and they show their estrus swelling 75% of the time during their period. Their estrus swelling can be about the size of a balloon. Its hard to determine when a female is actually on her menstrual cycle because their swelling shows when they are aroused. In the Bonobo community that can be quite often.
  • Parental Care: Infants stop nursing around one year of age but tend to stay in close contact with their mothers for at least three years and sometimes longer. Female bonobos sever ties with their mothers after six or seven years; while, males tend to remain with their mothers until adulthood. Bonobos start to walk like adults around the age of three. Many bonobo fathers do not know which infant is theirs, so they do not have a direct relationship. Because the bonobo males do not know which infant is theirs they try to prevent infanticide.
  • Language/Communication: Bonobos communicate with the many facial expressions they can make; also, they communicate with different types of hooting.
  • Evidence of Culture: Bonobos present a lot of evidence for culture. Their whole purpose as a community represents culture. They live by affection for everyone in the group. It is a theme of family and communication. They have a tight nit community with each other. They mate with everyone so that every member has a stronger bond with each other. Bonobos are cultured primates.

Works Cited:

Blount, B. G., Jeremy F. Dahl, and Tomoo Enomotoo. “BONOBO Mating System.” Biology @ Davidson. 2003. Web. 26 Sept. 2010. <>.

Lang, Kristina C. “Bonobo.” Primate Info Net. National Primate Research Center, 7 June 2005. Web. 24 Sept. 2010. <>.

Mieke De Lathouwers, & Linda Van Elsacker. (2006). Comparing infant and juvenile behavior in bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): a preliminary study. Primates, 47(4), 287-93. Retrieved September 24, 2010, from Sciences Module. (Document ID: 1221644451).

Nowak. “Pan Paniscus.” Animal Info. Animal Info, 1999. Web. 24 Sept. 2010. <;.

Parker, Sybil P., ed. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. 2. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990. Print.

“Taxonomic Tree.” Eskeletons. Department of Anthropology, 2007. Web. 24 Sept. 2010. <;.

Waal, Frans De. Bonobo. Los Angeles: University of California, 1997. Print.


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