We might not hear much about bonobos (Pan paniscus), but they are as closely related to humans (Homo sapiens) as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) – we all share a common ancestor.
Tragically, the bonobo is on the IUCN Red List as endangered (like all ‘Great Apes’ other than humans – gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees) and is only found living wild in the war-ravaged DR Congo. Our understanding of these Great Apes is poor with their discovery to Western science only occurring in 1927, though it’s perceived they are generally less aggressive than chimpanzees.
Bonobos typically weigh around 30-40 kilograms and are the smallest of the great apes.
Social animals, bonobos display many human-like characteristics and are known for resolving disputes with sex.
Human characteristics of chimps – BBC wildlife
In studying bonobos we learn that through play we develop the creativity and wonder that leads us to greater problem-solving ability.
Isabel Behncke: Evolution’s gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans