Dating is never easy, for any of us. Scenarios play over in our heads, classic questions and worries bombard us. Will she like me? Does he share the same interests? Will my mum be watching us have sex? Thankfully, that last question isn’t actually one we humans have to deal with. But new research shows that for bonobos, sex really is often a family affair. What’s more, rather than being an embarrassing hindrance, motherly presence greatly benefits bonobo sons during the deed.
Along with chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus) are our closest living relatives. Restricted to a 500,000 km² thickly-forested zone of the Congo Basin, these endangered great apes were only formally discovered in 1928, which until 2017 made them the most recently-described living great ape species.
Operating in female-led social systems, bonobos are capable of showing a wide range of what were long held as human-specific feelings and emotions, such as sensitivity, patience, compassion, kindness, empathyand altruism.
They’re also perhaps the most promiscuous non-human species on the planet.