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Issues in Bonobo (Pan Paniscus) Sexual Behavior

Ben G. Blount
American Anthropologist
New Series, Vol. 92, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 702-714
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/680344
Page Count: 13
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Issues in Bonobo (Pan Paniscus) Sexual Behavior
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Abstract

Sexual behavior is one of the reported similarities between Pan paniscus and Homo sapiens that has stimulated recent interest in the phylogeny of the Pan and the Australopithecus/Homo genera. Similarities do exist, but an understanding of the forms and functions of Pan paniscus sexual behavior is best achieved through a comparison to Pan troglodytes. Pan paniscus shows increased female receptivity, variability in copulatory position, male or female initiation of sexual behavior, differential male and female preferences for copulatory position, and association of food sharing and sexual behavior. Their sexual behavior appears to function in proximate terms as a tension-reduction mechanism. Lowered tension, in turn, facilitates multi-male, multi-female social groups. Lowered levels of aggression and increased sexual activity appear to be associated with paedomorphism, and the behavioral and anatomical/physiological characteristics of the species appear to be a consequence of a feeding ecology that promotes large groupings of the animals at preferential and comparatively rich feeding sites.

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