Taking a new look at chimpanzees and bonobos


Dr Zanna Clay, Marie Curie Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, and Thibaud Gruber (University of Neuchâtel) have published a paper which updates existing knowledge of chimpanzees and bonobos, and assesses their major similarities and differences. 

The paper reflects on a highly influential article written 20 years ago by the anthropologist Craig Stanford. Considering all the new data is now available on the closest living relatives of humans, Zanna Clay and Thibaud Gruber argue that previous assumptions of chimpanzees and bonobos as black-and-white opposites do not reflect the remarkable behavioural flexibility observed within each species- and these insights contribute to more balanced models of human evolution. They also note that previous models of human evolution are heavily biased towards one sub-species of chimpanzee (the Eastern chimpanzee) while not taking into account both within and between species variation. They finish by saying that many of the conclusions made about hominin evolution thus need to be updated based on recent insights from both the field and captivity from chimpanzees and bonobos.

Dr Zanna Clay, Marie Curie Post-doctoral Research Fellow, published a paper: Gruber, T., & Clay, Z. (2016). A comparison between bonobos and chimpanzees: A review and update. Evolutionary Anthropology, 25, 239-252. IF=4.53