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In A Bonobo World, Ladies Get To Choose Their Mates

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It seems like the tendency to want to mate with the most attractive male extends beyond humans and into the animal kingdom.

A new study has found that certain male bonobos have a strong advantage when it comes to fathering offspring – which researchers suggest could come down to how attractive they are.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have studied a population of bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They discovered that despite friendly relations between the sexes, particular males have a surprisingly strong advantage over others when it comes to fathering offspring.


For example, in one group, the most successful bonobo male fathered more than 60 percent of the next generation. The findings show that the reproductive skew is much higher in bonobos than it is in chimpanzees – which are known for being more aggressive.

While the reasons remain unverified, the researchers suspect that it may come down to a tendency for many females to choose to mate with the same attractive male.


Dr Martin Surbeck, who led the study, said: “The funny thing under such a scenario would be that most of the females would have the same preference for Camillo, the alpha male of the bonobos at our research site.”

Bonobos are known for their friendly nature and lack of aggression, and males are often seen investing in friendly relationships with females.

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