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Saturday, February 01, 2003

What in the World is a Bonobo?

Good question. So to clarify things a bit I reproduce an extract from the Bonobo Initiative Website. Remember, while we're busy busting our guts trying to save humanity, we could also try and take a bit of time out to do something of behalf of our 'nearest known relative'.

It is difficult to answer the question: What is a Bonobo? Bonobos are complex beings with profound intelligence, emotionality, and sensitivity. It’s like asking the question: What is a human? And, how do you answer? Philosophers, scientists, and mystics have been trying to figure it out for thousands of years!
Biologically speaking, bonobos are the closest you can get to being human without being human. Bonobos look more like humans than other apes, and display many behavioral similarities as well. Bonobos and people share 98.4% of the same genetic make-up (DNA). Bonobos and their cousins the chimpanzees, are more closely related genetically to us than they are to gorillas! But, like gorillas, they dwell only in the equatorial forests of central Africa, the cradle of humanity itself.

Bonobos are great apes, along with chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. Because we share so many characteristics with these simian species, some scientists contend that humans should be classified as apes too. Indigenous people who have dwelled among bonobos in the Congo forest have many legends about how bonobos and man were brothers in the distant past. They tell stories about how bonobos showed people what foods to eat in the forest, how a bonobo saved a man who needed help, how bonobos themselves are trying to become human.

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