The search of the similarities and differences between humans and animals commonly brings one to the analysis of the chimps’ life and their habits. Although scholars regularly conduct various studies, they still face a great number of questions that requires explanation and clearer answers. One of such timely and ambiguous issues is the relations between chimps and bonobos. For this reason, the current paper will focus on bonobos to show that these primates are not less close to humans regarding many characteristics than chimpanzees. While bonobos and chimps are too often defined as the identical animals, it is, however, the erroneous belief. The research question of the current paper focuses on the similarities and differences between the chimps and identifies some of the common features among each of the species that make them similar to humans. The hypothesis of the current study is that some human communities have more similarities with the chimpanzees, while others may resemble bonobos to some extent.
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Chimps, Bonobos, and Humans
Two African apes chimps and bonobos are similar in terms of various aspects. The first and the most obvious one is their appearance that can seem very alike at first glance. The genome that is similar in two species as well as the close phylogenetic relationship are the primary features that make chimpanzees and bonobos seem identical in many ways (Rilling et al. 2011). Nevertheless, during the latest decades, the researchers find more differences than similarities.
First of all, the area of living of these two species is different. While the chimpanzees are widely spread in Africa, the distribution of bonobos is much limited as they inhabit only in the southern part of Congo River (Pr?fer et al. 2012: 527). According to DNA researches, both bonobos and humans have evolved from chimps. However, the detailed analysis shows that bonobos share more similarities with humans than with chimpanzees, which gives the idea that in some cases, the former resemble humans more than chimps do. Consequently, it is erroneous not only to perceive chimpanzees and bonobos as the same animals but also to state that all humans have developed from chimpanzees.
From the neurobiological perspective, several physical factors predetermine the difference in the behavior of the two species. . Firstly, the brain size is different. The vivo MRI study has reported that the brain of bonobos is smaller than the one of the chimps with the indicators of n?=?4 and n?=?6 accordingly (Rilling et al. 2011:1). In addition, the chimps’ dorsal sector of the frontal lobe has a larger proportion comparing to orbital and mesial sectors (Rilling et al. 2011:1). Regarding the volume of the cerebellum, chimpanzees have a bigger one, while bonobos tend to have larger leftward asymmetries in the motor hand area, which predetermines the species’ difference in tools usage. Finally, lateral nucleus of the chimps is smaller, as compared to the nucleus of the bonobos (Rilling et al. 2011:2). The above-mentioned differences reveal the factors that precisely explain various distribution of the gray and white matter in the brain regions of two animals. As a result, scholars have found the dissimilarities in social behavior and cognitive skills of the chimps and bonobos. Moreover, it is important to note that Rilling et al. (2011) provide evidence that such differences in the brain structure are crucial as they influence the degree of empathy, emotion regulation, sexual behavior, and anxiety of the two species.
Regardless of the close phylogenetics, chimpanzees and bonobos are different in terms of the temperament and behavior. Scholars discovered that the higher aggression level, less adult play, lower variety of sexual behaviors, lower stress resistance, decreased social tolerance, and lower empathy level are more typical of chimpanzees rather than bonobos (Rilling et al. 2011:2). With regard to such characteristics of chimps, one is more likely to regard bonobos as more civilized and similar to humans. However, it is vital to take into consideration the fact that some patterns of human behaviors are more common for chimps, while the other ones are more similar to the bonobo’s behavior. Additionally, social cooperation, closeness with children, and tolerance are the features that chimps lack, whereas the groups of bonobos possess. (Herrmann et al. 2010). As a result, the behavior of the two species represents the great gap between the social-cognitive skills of the chimps and bonobos.
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The next difference in the behavior of the two species relates to gender characteristics. For example, chimpanzee males tend to show the aggressive behavior and dominance over female representatives. It is common for this animals “to compete for dominance rank” as well as for the females (Pr?fer et al. 2012: 528). In contrast to chimpanzees, females dominate over males in the bonobos groups. As for the aggression level and struggle for the dominance, it is very low or absent. The playful mood and “the intense sexual behavior” are uncommon for chimpanzees but are characteristic of bonobos contributing to their similarities with humans (Pr?fer et al. 2012: 528). Choosing the same-sex partners are common for both species. Overall, the chimps and bonobos have more similar features with humans than with one another. However, chimpanzees seem to resemble less developed civilizations of people, while the tolerance and more peaceful disposition of bonobos traces back to more intelligent societies.
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The tools that each species apply in their daily routine also present a difference between them. The research by Gruber et al. (2010:8) has provided solid evidence that chimpanzees mostly use the tools for food acquisition. Instead, bonobos’ necessity to clean, protect from rain, or receive other types of personal care determines their choice of equipment. In addition, they can even use the tools for sexual stimulation and social purposes, which is not typical of chimpanzees (Gruber et al. 2010:8). As a result, there are obvious diversities in behaviors of the two species. These differences prove that the cognitive abilities of the animals are different. Regardless of the genetic similarity, they perceive the social and physical world from unique perspectives. (Herrmann et al. 2010). Therefore, such characteristics separate bonobos and chimps from each other.
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To summarize, the evidence that convinces people that the two kinds of animals are different species includes the key social and sexual behaviors, the cognitive skills, the neural system, as well as different behavior patterns of the male and female representatives. In fact, the differences in the social behavior and tool usage prove that the representatives of the two species view the world from unique perspectives. Moreover, the aggression and empathy levels also contribute to the perception of bonobos and chimpanzees as two different kinds of animals, whose appearance is the most evident similar feature. Instead, the analysis of the diversity of the human behaviors and preferences shows that some groups of people can share more similarities with bonobos, while the other groups may resemble to chimpanzees in many ways. In particular, higher aggression level and prevalence of the necessity to struggle and dominate in a community are typical features associated with chimps. On the other hand, bonobos are more likely to experience humanity, empathy, and cognition. Therefore, more civilized human communities seem to have much in common with bonobos, whereas less developed and aggressive ones may be more similar to chimps.