University of Minnesota Duluth
 
 
myUMD | Search | People | Departments | Events | News

 A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z
~ Blenco Search
~ Google advanced
~ Google scholar
~ Google books
~ Google images
~ Google Translate
 
Wikipedia / Wiktionary
The World Fact Book -- CIA
UMD Library Main Catalog
Anthropology in the News

Moodle

HomePage

Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 15:37 (03:37 PM) CDT, day 266 of 2014

Prehistoric Cultures

Fall 2012 Calendar -- DAY [archive]

Fall 2012 Calendar -- EVENING [archive]

Dates and Times to Remember

class slides on-line
(free PowerPoint Viewer 2010)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 20:37 (08:37 PM) GMT, day 266 of 2014
. . . in History
  . . . in Headlines

      Babel Fish Translation
~ translate this page

Cutting Costs for College Textbooks

general textbook information
OWL logo, Online Writing Lab, Purdue University.


Up arrow.   to top of page / A-Z index

The Last Great Ape.

(56 min., 2007, CC, DVD 1150)

 

The Last Great Ape video.

Abstract TV Program Description Terms / Concepts Notes
Sites Individuals Bibliography Film Reviews

Bonobo --Wikipedia

search bonobo on JSTOR

 

The Last Great Ape Companion WebSite

NOVA

The Bonobo In All of Us

Primatologist Frans de Waal
on what the "make-love-not-war" primate
tells us about ourselves

Read My Lips

See a slide show of bonobo gestures and facial expressions,
and find out what they mean

Kanzi the Bonobo

In this audio slide show,
researcher Sue Savage-Rumbaugh
describes one extraordinarily linguistic ape

Our Family Tree

See (and hear) where you stand among the great apes
in this audiovisual interactive

Watch a Preview

An expedition into the Congo
examines one of our closest living relatives,
the peace-loving bonobo

Up arrow.   to top of page / A-Z index

program transcript


Up arrow.   to top of page / A-Z index

"Deep in the Congo lives a little-studied group of apes called the bonobos. Like the more-familiar chimpanzees, bonobos are among humans' closest relatives. But unlike chimps, known for their violent behavior, bonobos are far more peaceful and resolve conflict in an unusual way: by having sex. Much like humans, bonobos have sex not just to procreate, but also for pleasure and politics. The discovery of these gentle apes has fascinated scientists and led them to question our origins and the roots of human nature."

"But in 1997, just as research on these elusive apes was underway, civil war broke out in the Congo, and researchers were forced to evacuate immediately. Now NOVA returns to the battleground with scientists who are worried that war and the bush meat industry may have decimated the bonobo population. Instead, what they find gives them hope for the future of the species. The Last Great Ape tells the intimate, emotional story of these amazing apes, and the experiences of the passionate scientists who have followed them closely for so long."

Up arrow.   to top of page / A-Z index

TV Program Description

Original NOVA PBS Broadcast Date: February 13, 2007

Female bonobo swinging from tree.

Bonobos have been called the "make-love-not-war" primate
because of their peace-loving nature.
Ironically, war conducted by a fellow great ape—man—now
threatens their existence.

 

With their intelligent gaze, human-like posture, and peaceful nature, it's no wonder bonobos—one of five great apes, along with gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans—remind us of ourselves. But while we share a common hominoid ancestor with bonobos as well as 98 percent of our DNA, this unique primate has been largely overlooked by all but a few scientists.

Ironically, within this species, it is the females who generally have the power, and much of bonobo life revolves around sex, which may explain why they're seen as nonviolent creatures. Bonobos live in a region that has been consumed by war, which threatens their habitat and survival. Can we learn more about these intriguing, intelligent apes before it's too late? By interviewing leading experts and traveling into the field, this program shines a spotlight on the extraordinary behavior of the endangered bonobo.

Between five and seven million years ago, humans branched off from their hominoid ancestor and evolved into a separate species (see Our Family Tree). Between two and three million years ago, bonobos split off from their more aggressive cousins, the chimpanzees. Chimpanzees have been well studied throughout Africa for decades, with field researchers often comparing their violent and excitable behavior to the human tendency towards war and conflict. Wild bonobos, however, are only found within one remote bend of the Congo River, which is accessible only through the river's tributaries. Thanks to this inhospitable location, bonobos remained largely unexamined until the mid-1970s, when scientists first began to observe the shy animals tucked away in tree nests amid the Congo rainforest canopy.

As researchers studied these little-known apes, they discovered some striking differences between bonobo and chimpanzee behavior (see The Bonobo In All of Us). University of Oregon primatologist Frances White began conducting bonobo field studies in 1983 and discovered that in bonobo families, females generally rule. While chimps are a patriarchal species in which males often brutally dominate females, bonobo females tend to have priority in terms of feeding and sharing food with each other and with males. In territorial disputes, the females take the lead to avoid conflict, using peaceful means rather than fierce aggression. They also keep the stronger males in check by forming alliances with other females.

Perhaps the most intriguing and tantalizing bonobo behavior, however, is widespread sex. Most animals are sexually active for only a few days each month. But bonobos are receptive to sex throughout their cycle, even though females can only get pregnant once every five years. Bonobo sex is not just about reproduction; it is about bonding, relieving tensions, and maintaining harmony. Intimacy, this program points out, makes it hard to stay angry.

The bonobos' peaceful nature also extends to their ability to be empathic, altruistic, and tolerant. The Last Great Ape reveals young bonobos exhibiting caring behavior toward a peer who has hurt his hand, and shares the story of a female bonobo in captivity who tends to an injured bird. Perhaps this remarkable behavior speaks to our shared past: according to Frans de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta, who also appears in the film, genetic research shows a piece of DNA involved in bonding is found in both humans and bonobos—but is missing in chimpanzees.

There is much more to learn about the bonobo, but humans may be losing their chance. In 1998, the Congo plunged into a years-long civil war, and violence forced the scientists who had been studying the bonobos out of the jungle. Researchers despaired that perhaps all of the already dwindling bonobo population had been killed for bush meat or poached to sell as pets. In "The Last Great Ape," long-time bonobo observer Frances White returns to Africa to search for her beloved bonobos. Will she find the population intact or decimated? Have the bonobos survived the warring factions and human encroachment threatening their existence?


Program Transcript

Program Credits

Up arrow.   to top of page / A-Z index

Terms / Concepts

  • "bush meat industry"
Red-eared guenons (with red tails) and Preuss' guenons for sale in bushmeat market Malabo Equatorial Guinea.

Red-eared guenons (with red tails) and Preuss' guenons for sale
in bushmeat market Malabo Equatorial Guinea.

Understanding Humans, 10th Ed., p. 145
  • dominance hierarchy

    • in bonobo families, females generally rule

      • within this species, it is the females who generally have the power

      • notice that unlike the chimpanzees studies by Jane Goodal and others, males do not dominate society

  • aggression

    • bonobo females tend to have priority in terms of feeding and sharing food with each other and with males

      • chimps are a patriarchal species in which males often brutally dominate females

    • in territorial disputes, the females take the lead to avoid conflict, using peaceful means rather than fierce aggression

    • They also keep the stronger males in check by forming alliances with other females

    • "aggression" is against conspecifics

      • conspecifics—members of the same species

  • home base

    • camps

    • where hominid groups gather at evening for socializing, food sharing, and sleeping

    • (cf., discussion re "home range" in class)

      • total area used

      • The area a primate group uses for foraging, sleeping, and so on in a year

    • (cf., discussion re "territory" in class)

      • the area occupied and defended by individuals or groups of animals against “conspecifics”

        • conspecifics — members of the same species

  • reproduction

    • females can only get pregnant once every five years

Notes

  • Between five and seven million years ago, humans branched off from their hominoid ancestor and evolved into a separate species (see Our Family Tree)

  • Between two and three million years ago, bonobos split off from their more aggressive cousins, the chimpanzees

  • Chimp studies provide models for interpreting prehistoric primates, as sort of an "ethnographic analogy"

    • Pay attention to how the research on bonobos reported here changes the emage chimpanzees/bonobos in terms of "ethnographic analogy"

  • Bonobos live in a region that has been consumed by war, which threatens their habitat and survival

  • Eating:

    • during the civil war adaptations and change in feeding patterns may have saved the bonobos that survived
  • Child Rearing:

 

  • Physical contact for its own sake seems to be a primary goal of chimp grooming, and chimps give reassurance to one another by touch. Including, among bonobos, sex.

    • much of bonobo life revolves around sex

    • sex is not just about reproduction

      • it is about bonding, relieving tensions, and maintaining harmony

      • intimacy makes it hard to stay angry

Sites

Individuals

  • Sue Savage-Rumbaugh
  • Frans de Waal
  • Frances White

Publications / Bibliography

  • Apes, Language, and the Human Mind. 1998. E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Talbot J. Taylor, and Stuart G. Shanker. Oxford University Press.

  • Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape. 1998. Frans De Waal, Frans Lanting. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

  • Chimpanzee Cultures. 1996 . Richard W. Wrangham (Editor), W. C. McGrew (Editor), Frans de Waal (Editor). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes. 2000. Frans de Waal. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  • Kanzi's Primal Language: The Cultural Initiation of Primates into Language. 2006. Par Segerdahl, E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, and William Fields. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are. 2006. Frans de Waal. NY: Penguin.
 top of page /\  A-Z index
Moodle

© 1998 - 2014 Timothy G. Roufs — All rights reserved   Envelope: E-mail
Page URL: http:// www.d.umn.edu /cla/faculty/troufs/anth1602/video/Last_Great_Ape.html
Last Modified Thursday, 07 October 2010, 12:32 (12:32 PM) CDT, day 280 of 2010
Site Information / Disclaimers ~ Main A-Z Index


View Stats 

© 2014 University of Minnesota Duluth
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Last modified on 10/07/10 12:32 PM
University of Minnesota Campuses
Crookston | Duluth | Morris
Rochester | Twin Cities | Other Locations