New insights help to explain why same-sex sexual interactions are so important for female bonobos
Phys.org - Tue 10 Sep 19:27 GMT

Among our two closest phylogenetic relatives, chimpanzees remain by far the more thoroughly-studied and widely-recognized species, known for their high levels of cooperation especially among males, which includes sharing food, supporting each other in aggress…

  Same-sex sexual behavior in female bonobos increases friendly social interactions, including cooperation.

  In contrast, insights into the social dynamics of wild bonobos are available from only a small number of long-term field sites, and bonobos are probably best known for their diverse sexual behavior, which together with their proposed peacefulness between communities and co-dominance between the sexes, has led to their nickname as the 'hippie apes."

  Bonobos are one of the few species in which all adult members of one sex engage in habitual same-sex sexual interactions that occur at similar or even greater frequencies as opposite-sex interactions.

  To clarify why same-sex sexual behavior is so important specifically for female bonobos, we collected behavioral and hormonal data for over a year from all adult members of a habituated bonobo community at the long-term LuiKotale field site in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  "While it is important to not equate human homosexuality with same-sex sexual behavior in animals," cautions co-lead author Liza Moscovice, a researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, "our study suggests that in both humans and a close phylogenetic relative, the evolution of same-sex sexual behavior may have provided new pathways to promote high levels of cooperation."

  information: Liza R. Moscovice et al, The cooperative sex: Sexual interactions among female bonobos are linked to increases in oxytocin, proximity and coalitions, Hormones and Behavior (2019).