Ted talks : Evolution's gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans

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Ted talks : Evolution's gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans

Post by Barbier Victor on Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:18 pm

This topic relates to the video of the primatologist Isabel Behncke which tells the evolution's gift of play. This woman went to observe the bonobos in the Congo and we learn a lot about them.

First, bonobos are, with chimpanzees, our closest living cousins with whom we have a common ancestor. But there is a difference between bonobos and chimpanzees. Cimpanzees are dominated by bigs male and are well known for their agression. Bonobos show otherwise. They are controlled by females and live in a very tolerant society. No mortal violence were observed in them so far. However, we have little information about them because they live deep in the Congolese jungle so it is very difficult to study them. Congo has an extraordinary biodiversity that allows bonobos living there but it is also a place where violent conflict has raged for many years. The bushmeat trades and deforestation threatens the survival of this species. Today, we are not sure we can fill a small stadium with all remaining bonobos living in the world..

But we focus more specifically on their behavior. We called them the apes "make love, not war" because they have frequent sex and even with more partners to managed conflict. But their life is not just about that. They love to play throughout their lives. Unlike us, play is fundamental to the creation of links between them and allows tolerance. The game is the basis of their "society". Play increase creativity and resilience. And when we see a bonobo play we can observe similitaries with the root of the evolution of the human laughter and dance. There are other similitaries as sexual games that are common to humans and bonobos. I spare you the details but it shows the inventiveness of bonobos when they play. More, bonobos are able to play alone like us, it means they want to learn more about the world around them.

These are some elements to better understand our past and our present with these bonobos. But we also learn about our future ! A future where the world will be increasingly difficult and that we need to adapt. The key is the game. We need to play whatever the situation.

As stated so well Isabel Behncke : play is the glue that bind us together.

Barbier Victor

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