One female facing another clings with arms and legs to a partner that, standing on both hands and feet, lifts her off the ground. The two females then rub their genital swellings laterally together, emitting grins and squeals that probably reflect orgasmic experiences.
De Waal first became interested in bonobo behaviour not for its sexual component, but as part of a study into primate aggression. In continuous observations of bonobos in a zoo, he found that a standard feature of the behaviour was sexual arousal and intercourse immediately before feeding. As soon as a caretaker approached with food, the males would develop erections, and the animals would invite each other for sex. (This is not just an aberration of captivity. Other researchers have observed the same association between food and sex in the wild: after a group had entered trees with ripe fruit, or after they had killed a young prey animal, there would be a flurry of sexual contacts before settling down to eat.)
During reconciliations, bonobos use the same sexual repertoire as they do during feeding time. Based on an analysis of many such incidents, my study yielded the first solid evidence for sexual behavior as a mechanism to overcome aggression. Not that this function is absent in other animals–or in humans, for that matter–but the art of sexual reconciliation may well have reached its evolutionary peak in the bonobo. For these animals, sexual behavior is indistinguishable from social behaviour.
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- The Wildlife Rainbow
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- Penguin (Gay) Parenting: Lessons for Gay Adoption
- The Saga of the Toronto Gay Penguins
- Tough Survivors: Gender Fluid Eels.
- Bisexual squid ‘can’t tell mates apart’ in dark waters – Telegraph
- A Lesson in Couple Stability From Homosexual Zebra Finches
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- The Real Mama Grizzlies: Lesbian Moms?
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- Queer Bonobos: Sex As Conflict Resolution
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- The Pygmy Chimpanzee: Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Edited by Randall L. Susman. Plenum Press, 1984.
- THE COMMUNICATIVE REPERTOIRE OF CAPTIVE BONOBOS (PAN PANISCUS) COMPARED TO THAT OF CHIMPANZEES. F.B.M. de Waal in “Behaviour,” Vol. 106, Nos. 3-4, pages 183-251; September 1988.
- PEACEMAKING AMONG PRIMATES. F.B.M. de Waal. Harvard University Press, 1989.
- Understanding Chimpanzees Edited by Paul Heltne and Linda A. Marquardt. Harvard University Press, 1989.
- The Last Ape: Pygmy Chimpanzee Behavior and Ecology Takayoshi Kano. Stanford University Press, 1992.
- Chimpanzee Cultures: With a Foreword by Jane Goodall R. Wrangham, W. C. McGrew, F.B.M. de Waal and P. Heltne. Harvard University Press, 1994.