Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

The bonobo is an endangered great ape most closely related to the chimpanzee; the two Pan species' last common ancestor is estimated to have lived 1.5-2 million years ago. Isolated to the south of the Congo River, the bonobos have evolved along a trajectory unusual among primates and mammals. Their social system mirrors that of chimpanzees with fission-fusion group structure, female dispersal, a promiscuous mating system, and well-defined yet shifting hierarchy. The Pan species have far more in common than in contrast, but the bonobos are best known for the more derived characteristics of their social system. They are described as more egalitarian and less physically aggressive than chimpanzees; females bond strongly with one another and can be dominant to adult males; sexual activity plays an active role in bonding and conflict resolution. As with all animals, the bonobos' behavior and physiology differ signicantly in the wild and in captivity. However, while the intensity of some behaviors vary with environment (e.g. the frequency of sexual activity), their unique social system remains apparent in both captive communities and the Congo.


The data are compiled from many different sources, thus compromising the value of both inter- and intraspecific data comparisons. All datasets include a sources sheet; the complete bibliography is also presented on the webpage. Many ape species have not been studied thoroughly and lack data in most areas of interest. Subject areas are demography, life history, ontogeny, morphology, energetics, and nutrition.

Whole dataset


Aerts, P., Van Damme, R., Van Elsacker, L., & Duchêne, V. (2000). Spatio-temporal gait characteristics of the hind-limb cycles during voluntary bipedal and quadrupedal walking in bonobos (Pan paniscus). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 111(4), 503. [link]

Coolidge, H. & Shea, B. (1982) External body dimensions of Pan paniscus and Pan troglodytes chimpanzees. Primates 23, 245–251. [link]

Furuichi, T., Idani, G., Ihobe, H., Kuroda, S., Kitamura, K., Mori, A., Enomoto, T., Okayasu, N., Hashimoto, C., & Kano, T. (1998). Population dynamics of wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba. International Journal of Primatology 19, 1029–1043. [link]

Hayssen, V. & Tienhoven, A. (1993). Asdell’s Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction. Cornell University Press. [link]

Isler, K., Kirk, C., Miller, J., Albrecht, G., Gelvin, B., & Martin, R. (2008). Endocranial volumes of primate species: scaling analyses using a comprehensive and reliable data set. Journal of Human Evolution 55, 967–78. [link]

Jungers, W. & Susman, R. (1984). Allometry in African apes. In The Pygmy Chimpanzee, ed. R. Susman, pp. 131–177. Plenum Press.

Kano, T. (1992). The Last Ape: pygmy chimpanzee behavior and ecology. Stanford University Press.

Kuroda, S. (1989) Developmental retardation and behavioral characteristics of pygmy chimpanzees. In Understanding Chimpanzees, pp. 184-193. Harvard University Press.

Mills, J. & Reinartz, G. (1997). The care and management of bonobos in captive environments: a husbandry manual jointly developed for the bonobo SSP and EEP. Zoological Society of Milwaukee County. [link] [pdf]

Neugebauer, W. (1980). The status and management of the pygmy chimpanzee Pan paniscus in European zoos. International Zoo Yearbook 20, 64–70. [link]

Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D., Gordon, A., Schroepfer-Walker, K., Hare, B., O'Neill, M., Muldoon, K., Dunsworth, H., Wood, B., Isler, K., Burkart, J., Irwin, M., Schumaker, R., Lonsdorf, E., & Ross, S. (2014). Primate energy expenditure and life history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, 1433–1437. [link]

Smith, R. & Jungers, W. (1997). Body mass in comparative primatology. Journal of Human Evolution 32, 523-559. [link]

Smith, R. J., & Leigh, S. R. (1998). Sexual dimorphism in primate neonatal body mass. Journal of human evolution, 34(2), 173-201. [link]

Zihlman, A. (1984). Body build and tissue composition in chimpanzees. In The Pygmy Chimpanzee, ed. R. Susman, pp. 179-200. Plenum Press.