This blog has moved!

Please go to my new Psychology Today blog to see what I'm up to. To buy the book, Bonobo Handshake, please visit my website. To follow the adventures of the Lola ya Bonobo orphans, please visit Friends of Bonobos

Monday, September 3, 2007

That time of the month

There's been a lot of controversy lately on the difference between chimps and bonobos. I guess for the sake of simplicity, chimps have been sold as bloodthirsty rapists and bonobos as vapid cheerleaders who will have sex with anyone anytime.

Of course the real story is a lot more subtle. There is violence in bonobo societies. They aren't constantly having sex. But the differences between chimps and bonobos, I think, are still enough to puzzle over.

Take that time of the month.

Us humans girls usually hate getting our period. We get crampy and generally walk around biting people's heads off.

For a chimpanzee, the worst time of their cycle is the middle, when they start to ovulate and they're most likely to get pregnant. This is the time female chimpanzees get the crap beaten out of them. Males, especially high ranking ones, will beat an ovulating female into submission because she is more likely to mate with them.

A severe case of MCB (Mid Cycle Blues)

Bonobo males will very occasionally attack a female. But it's nowhere near the frequency that it happens in chimps. And if they do attack her, she's no more likely to have sex with them. Which doesn't make it a very effective mating strategy. Which means beating up females so they will have sex with you later, doesn't become an entrenched part of bonobo society, like it does in chimps.

Interesting difference #1. Stay tuned for more developments.