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Primates. 2006 Oct;47(4):287-93. Epub 2006 May 9.

Comparing infant and juvenile behavior in bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): a preliminary study.

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Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.


The dichotomy between the two Pan species, the bonobo (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) has been strongly emphasized until very recently. Given that most studies were primarily based on adult individuals, we shifted the "continuity versus discontinuity" discussion to the infant and juvenile stage. Our aim was to test quantitatively, some conflicting statements made in literature considering species differences between immature bonobos and chimpanzees. On one hand it is suggested that infant bonobos show retardation in motor and social development when compared with chimpanzees. Additionally it is expected that the weaning process is more traumatic to chimpanzee than bonobo infants. But on the other hand the development of behaviors is expected to be very similar in both species. We observed eight mother-infant pairs of each species in several European zoos. Our preliminary research partially confirms that immature chimpanzees seem spatially more independent, spending more time at a larger distance from their mother than immature bonobos. However, the other data do not seem to support the hypothesis that bonobo infants show retardation of motor or social development. The development of solitary play, environmental exploration, social play, non-copulatory mounts and aggressive interactions do not differ between the species. Bonobo infants in general even groom other group members more than chimpanzee infants. We also found that older bonobo infants have more nipple contact than same aged chimpanzees and that the weaning process seems to end later for bonobos than for immature chimpanzee. Additionally, although immature bonobos show in general more signs of distress, our data suggest that the weaning period itself is more traumatic for chimpanzees.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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