Pregnant bonobos get a little delivery help from their friends | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News in Brief

Pregnant bonobos get a little delivery help from their friends

Observations of captive apes suggest they, like humans, have ‘social’ births

By
1:26pm, May 24, 2018
bonobos

SOCIAL DELIVERY  Researchers have observed three cases of captive female bonobos serving as helpers for pregnant females about to give birth, a behavior typically viewed as exclusive to humans. Here, a group of wild bonobos includes a mother carrying her infant.

Like humans, African apes called bonobos may treat birth as a social event with a serious purpose.

In three recorded instances in captivity, female bonobos stood close by and provided protection and support to a bonobo giving birth to a healthy infant. Female bystanders also gestured as if ready to hold an infant before it was born, or actually held one as it was born, scientists report online May 9 in Evolution and Human Behavior. Ethologist Elisa Demuru of the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa in Italy and colleagues filmed these incidents in 2009, 2012 and 2014 at two European primate parks where the apes roam freely through forested areas.

These observations, along with a 2014 report of wild bonobos behaving similarly, challenge an influential idea that human females, unlike other primates,

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content