Bonobo crowned 'cleverest ape in the world'

  • Breaking
  • 10/08/2011

Matriarchal monkeys showed alpha apes who has the most intelligence after the females won a competition for "cleverest monkey" organised by Antwerp Zoo.

The bonobo apes, more commonly known as pygmy chimpanzees, beat the group of chimpanzees 4-2 in intelligence tests.

Bonobos are a primate unique to Congo and humankind's closest relative - they share 98.4 percent of their genetic make-up with humans. They live in matriarchies where females lead the group and frequently use sex to resolve social conflicts.

The competition included six games, or tests, that had to be undertaken in a limited timeframe - time the chimpanzees wasted with alpha male in-fighting, while the matriarchal competitors muddled through.

Behavioural biologist and bonobo specialist Jeroen Stevens and his colleagues at the zoo expected the tool-wielding chimps to win, but were surprised by the persistence and motivation of a female bonobo named Djanoa.

Stevens compared the chimps to babies who like new toys, but get bored quickly and lose attention.

For Stevens, the competition opened the way into further research into monkeys' behaviours. He wants to find out if monkeys, like human beings, have personalities.

Until he has proven that scientifically, Stevens said he can't be sure of anything.

"The question now is 'is Djanoa really an Einstein in the bonobo world or are there other things that play. May be she is just very keen on getting walnuts? May be she is just very motivated and not very intelligent?" he pondered.

The brain test is part of a campaign by the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp in Belgium to raise money to tackle the problem of bonobos being captured in the wild and sold as bush meat.

Bush meat, which also includes meat from gorillas and chimpanzees, is considered a delicacy in parts of Africa.

Stevens said there are about 35,000 bonobos left on the central Congo basin, and that bush meat consumption could lead to their extinction.

3 News / Reuters

source: newshub archive