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Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape by Frans de Waal

1997; 210 pp. $39.95, University of California Press.

We have shared the planet with bonobos, our closest animal cousins (born with ninety-eight percent same genes) for millions of years, but this is the first book that gives the lay reader any real knowledge of them! Jane Goodall's studies of chimpanzees (also ninety-eight percent same genes) showed us that these genes we share can lead to male-dominated, power-organized societies capable of infanticide, bloody internecine fights, as well as ambush and murder of neighboring chimps. From the bonobos we learn something entirely different about our common genes?that they can lead to a female-centered, female-bonded society in which even the male rank order is largely dictated by mothers. Aggressive conflicts never escalate very far before they are transmuted and reconciled through erotic play. (Perhaps the first behavioral science confirmation of the 1960s slogan, "Make love not war.") The bonobos' extraordinary intelligence is channeled, not into tool-making, but into a heightened sensitivity to the point of view and feelings of others. Hard to believe? Check it out. The photos by Frans Lanting are truly wonderful!


ISBN: 0520216512

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