Humans regularly cooperate and share resources with other, unrelated humans in different social groups, often without any immediate, reciprocated benefits. The phenomenon has been considered unique to our species. But some bonobos appear to share this social trait, a study finds.
This type of cooperation is thought to underpin human civilization. So bonobos’ ability to bond and cooperate with groups of nonrelatives across group boundaries, even when there’s no immediate payoff, may provide some insight into the kinds of evolutionary conditions that led to the development of humankind’s large-scale societies, researchers report November 16 in Science.
Both chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (P. paniscus) live in social groups with individuals that may not be very closely related. But compared with territorial and aggressive chimpanzees, bonobos have a more easygoing, tolerant attitude toward other groups. Bonobos occasionally groom and share food with unrelated individuals from other social groups and have even been known to adopt outsiders’ young. But the extent of the apes’ cooperative behavior has been unclear. [Continue reading…]