Bonobo baby dominance: Did female defense of offspring lead to reduced male aggression?

Book Section

The dominance style of bonobos presents an evolutionary puzzle. Bonobos are not male dominant but female bonobos do not show traits typical of female-dominant species. This chapter proposes the offspring dominance hypothesis (ODH) as a potential solution. ODH suggests the social system of bonobos evolved as a defence against infanticide and is not due to pressure to monopolize resources. Females that prevented aggression towards offspring and preferred mating with less aggressive males were most successful. Supporting ODH, during observations at Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary it was found that: 1) adult male bonobos are rarely aggressive towards offspring with mothers, 2) some mother-reared juvenile bonobos attain rank higher than adult males and 3) mother-reared offspring often socially interact with adult males without their mothers nearby. These preliminary findings provide initial support that the bonobo social system evolved due to fitness advantages of effectively protecting offspring against consequences of male aggression.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Walker, K; Hare, B

Published Date

  • January 1, 2018

Book Title

  • Bonobos: Unique in Mind, Brain, and Behavior

Start / End Page

  • 49 - 64

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780198728511

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/oso/9780198728511.003.0004

Citation Source

  • Scopus