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Laura Klappenbach

The Generosity of Bonobos

By January 12, 2013

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Researchers Jingzhi Tan and Brian Hare from Duke University have revealed that bonobos are pretty generous primates. Tan and Hare discovered that the apes will share their food with unfamiliar bonobos if the recipient provide them with social interaction in return.

It turns out that bonobos are so generous that they will offer all of their food to strangers—leaving none for themselves—as long as the unfamiliar bonobos repay the gesture with social interaction. Bonobos do exhibit limits to their generosity though. If no social interaction is possible, bonobos help the strangers acquire food that is out of reach but do not go so far as tooffer the strangers their own food.

The study aims to shed light on the evolution of generosity in bonobos and in turn, how behavior might enable the growth of social networks.

Photo © Jingzhi Tan / Duke University.

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