Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bonobos comfort each other

Young bonobos that are more ‘socially competent' are more likely to cuddle and calm other apes that are in distress, research has revealed.

November 2013. Scientists in an African sanctuary found that bonobos that recovered quickly from an upsetting experience, such as a fight, were also more likely to comfort others. This mirrors findings from studies in children and suggests bonobos manage their emotions in a similar way.

The researchers, whose findings are published in PNAS journal, captured footage showing ‘emotionally competent' young apes rushing to hug other juveniles that were screaming after being attacked.

Previous studies documenting bonobos' responses to others' emotions have led them to be known as the ‘empathic apes'. Prof Frans de Waal from Yerkes National Primate Research Centre at Emory University in Atlanta said these new results revealed that their ability to console one another was part of this empathy.

He added: "It is almost as if one needs to have one's own emotional house in order before one is ready to visit the emotional house of another. This is true of children, and apparently also for bonobos."

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