2014 Photo Contest, Nature, Stories, 3rd prize

Bonobos - Our Unknown Cousins

Photographer

Christian Ziegler

for National Geographic magazine

01 June, 2011

Bonobos, along with chimpanzees, are our closest living relatives. They are also among the least-studied of primates.

About

Christian Ziegler

He is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and has been widely published in other magazines such as Geo, Smithsonian, and BBC Wildlife. Christian’s aim is to hig...

Background story

A young female bonobo rests after a large meal. Her lips are colored orange by mud she has eaten to counteract toxins in unripe fruit she consumed.

Bonobos, along with chimpanzees, are our closest living relatives. They are also among the least-studied of primates. Unlike chimpanzees, who are territorial and combative, bonobos are relatively peaceful creatures, and appear to use sex as a means of social communication. Sex, for bonobos, is not restricted to male-female copulation during the female’s fertile period, but includes various gender combinations, and occurs in a variety of situations, including greeting, relieving tension, and as an expression of reconciliation.

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