Business, Finance & Economics

Study: Female bonobos have sexual relations with other females to boost their status

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Female bonobos "advertise" their sexual relations with other female apes to promote their social status, a new study has found.

Credit:

Georges Gobet

Female bonobos are sexual show-offs, using homosexual relations to get ahead in their social circles, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports journal on Thursday.   

Researchers who studied the apes' communication and interactions found that females made the most noise during sex if the "alpha female" was close by, BBC News reported. Low-ranking females that were invited to have sex with high-ranking females would also call to tell other group members about the experience. 

"Bonobo females frequently form close bonds, which give them social power over other group members," according to the study. "One potential mechanism to facilitate female bonding is the performance of sexual interactions." 

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The female bonobos use sex to reduce stress and competition, develop affiliations, express and test social relationships and for reconciling conflicts and consoling victims in distress, Dr Zanna Clay, from Emory University in Atlanta, told the BBC.

Dr Clay has been studying bonobos' vocalizations for five years, and led an international team of scientists who were observing the apes at the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, BBC reported. 

"Using vocalizations, females only advertise sexual contacts with important group members," said Dr Clay. "It's all about climbing up the social ladder for female bonobos."

Bonobos, or Pan paniscus, are closely related to the chimpanzee species, LiveScience reported. Bonobos are an endangered species, and live only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are commonly referred to as the lovemaking cousin of the warrior chimp, LiveScience reported.