A bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo has garnered quite a reputation
Following an investigation by an international team of primatologists it has been discovered that the bonobo, named Camillo, has fathered a whopping 62 per cent of the babies born in his community.
The research, led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, showed that reproductive bias – a term used to describe the situation in which most children have the same father – was much higher among bonobos than among chimpanzees, although these are more dominant and aggressive.
Although the reasons for this bias or reproductive distortion are not entirely clear, researchers suspect it could be due to the tendency of many females to choose to mate with the same attractive male.
Researcher Martin Surbeck said: “The funny thing about this scenario is that most females agreed on preferring Camillo, the alpha male and ‘Brad Pitt’ of the bonobos of the place where we did the research.”
In order to carry out the study, they did paternity tests to 13 monkeys born from 2007 to 2013 in the Bompusa Bonobos community of LuiKotale, Democratic Republic of Congo, and compared the results with paternity data of chimpanzees collected in five communities.
The bonobo, also known as the pygmy chimpanzee, is a rare species threatened with extinction
Subsequently, they extended the study to a period of 12 years (between 2002 and 2013). The bonobo that had the largest amount of children was the father of 62 per cent of the babies in his group, while the chimpanzee that left more offspring had 51 per cent of the babies in his community.
Kevin Langergraber, researcher at the Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and co-author of the study, said: “Unlike what happens with chimpanzees, where all adult males have higher ranks than adult females and even lower males can coerce females to mate with them, it seems that bonobo females can choose males.
“Maybe they choose the high-ranking bonobos.”
Camillo, pictured lazily lying in a tree, was often seen in the company of his mother according to the researchers.
Camillo has fathered 62 per cent of the babies born in his troop
The presence of the mothers in the bonobo group affects the reproductive success of their male children, according to researchers.
The findings, published in 2010, revealed that high social status and the presence of the mothers played an important role in attracting the females of the group. Since males usually stay in the group where they are born and adult females often intervene to solve conflicts that arise, the mother’s influence continues as her children grow and affect the relationships they have.
In fact, even males who did not have a high position in the group, saw their chances of mating with other females increased thanks to their mothers. By helping their children, they are likely to increase their number of grandchildren.