Bonobos make high-pitched “baby” cries when attacked to draw comfort from others.

Bonobos cry like babies! The video shows adult monkeys making high-pitched squeals when attacked to increase their chances of comforting others.

  • Bonobos strategically display distress when attacked by other bonobos.
  • This increases their chances of being consoled by viewing other bonobos.
  • Adult bonobos usually stop signaling their distress when they receive support.
  • Study Shows Emotional Expressions Can Be Used to Achieve Social Goals

Bonobos are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, they have roughly 98.7% DNA – and they seem to have picked up a few human characteristics along the way.

A new study has found that monkeys make high-pitched “baby” cries when they are attacked to attract comfort from others.

Scholars argue that these manifestations of distress are of strategic importance, increasing their chances of receiving solace from passers-by.

They resemble those commonly used by babies, such as pouting, whimpering, and tantrums.

A study by psychologists at the University of Durham shows that adult bonobos are also less likely to be re-attacked by their former adversary when they display these “baby” signals after a conflict.

Bonobo distress displays resemble those commonly used by infants, such as pouting, whimpering, and tantrums.

BONOBO FEMALE ‘ADOPT’ ORPHANS FROM OTHER SOCIAL GROUPS

In a striking display of altruism, a woman bonobos monkeys will “adopt” and care for unrelated orphans from other social groups, discovered in 2021.

Researchers have witnessed two such adoptions among endangered groups of great apes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Monkeys have been observed carrying, grooming, feeding and nesting with their foster babies for periods lasting over 12 and 18 months respectively.

The team used analysis of fecal mitochondrial DNA samples to confirm that the adopted monkeys and their caretakers were definitely not maternally related.

“Bonobos are very sensitive to social situations and who surrounds them,” said study lead author Dr. Rafaela Heezen.

“They have a rich emotional life and can flexibly communicate their emotional states to influence members of their group.

“By using specifically ‘baby’ cues, bonobos can increase their chances of being comforted by others and reduce their own stress levels after aggressive attacks.

“Our study shows that emotions and their expression play a role in regulating social life not only in our own species, but also in our closest living primate relatives.”

For many years, scientists believed that great apes had no control over their emotional manifestations. However, a new study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions B turns this idea on its head.

The Durham University team analyzed two groups of more than 40 people in the world’s only bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They found that bonobos’ expression of emotions is not just a reading of their internal state, but they can be used in flexible and strategic ways to achieve social goals – just like in humans.

The researchers observed how the victims communicated their feelings after the fight and how it affected the reaction of bystanders.

When the cries of animals resembled those of baby bonobos, they were more likely to elicit sympathy.

Photographs depicting the expression of emotions of bonobo victims after social conflicts, taken in the Lola-ya-bonobo reserve.  a) an adult female victim crouches with a bared expression/screaming cry, being comforted by an adult female;  b) An example of a facial expression with bared teeth;  c) an example of an inflated facial expression;  d) an example of a victim's scream / bared teeth plus bristling hair

Photographs depicting the expression of emotions of bonobo victims after social conflicts, taken in the Lola-ya-bonobo reserve. a) an adult female victim crouches with a bared expression/screams, is comforted by an adult woman; b) An example of a facial expression with bared teeth; c) an example of an inflated facial expression; d) an example of a victim’s scream / bared teeth plus bristling hair

The researchers also found that bonobos are sensitive to their audience—they produce more signals if more bonobos are nearby.

The study sheds new light on the evolutionary origins of emotion transmission.

Other great apes interpret calls based on the context in which they were made, requiring them to make reasonable inferences about meaning.

“The act of comforting a victim in distress has long been considered a form of empathy initiated by the bystander,” says senior author Dr. Zanna Clay.

“However, our research shows that the victim’s own cues can be strategically used to shape these responses.

“By producing signals that make them look more like babies, bonobo victims may increase the chances of receiving comfort from others.

“This highlights the important role that communication plays in shaping empathetic response.”

WHAT COMMON GESTURES DO BONOBOS AND CHIMPATHS USE TO COMMUNICATE?

If bonobos and chimpanzees met face to face, they would likely be able to understand each other’s gestures, according to a new study.

BUT study shows that chimpanzees and bonobos use gestures in a variety of situations and for different purposes, such as initiating and changing positions during grooming.

However, some gestures evoke different responses in chimpanzees and bonobos. Each gesture can have more than one meaning, but the most common ones are listed below:

Chimpanzee

Behavior: Value

  • Raise of hand: receive an object from another person
  • Bipedal Position: Unknown
  • Big Loud Scratch: Start Courting
  • Push (directional): repositioning
  • Grab: Stop Behavior
  • Grab Pull: Get Closer
  • Stroking (mouth stroking): receiving an object from another person.
  • Present (rise): Climb on me
  • Present (genitals forward): start of copulation.
  • Present (care): initiate care
  • Walking in tandem: start grooming
  • Reach out (palm): to receive an object from another person
  • Summon: Come closer
  • Hugs: Contact
  • Craving: Initiate sex

bonobos

Behavior: Value

  • Raise your hand: climb on you
  • Bipedal position: initiate copulation
  • Big Loud Scratch: Start Courting
  • Push (directional): Climb on me
  • Grab: Climb on me
  • Grab-pull: follow me
  • Stroking (mouth stroking): receiving an object from another person.
  • Present (rise): Climb on me
  • Present (genitals forward): start genital rubbing.
  • Present (care): initiate care
  • Walking in tandem: start grooming
  • Reach (palm): climb on me
  • Summon: Come closer
  • Hugs: Contact
  • Craving: Initiate sex