Nav: Home

Bonobo: great ape with a tiny voice

October 23, 2018

We can easily see whether someone is large or small, but we can also hear it in the pitch of their voice. For a long time, research on the accoustic communication in humans and animals has accepted the paradigm predicting a causal relationship between body size and voice pitch. Meanwhile, evidence from a large number of animal species has revealed that this relation does not always apply. Various animal species, including chimpanzees, have mechanisms that enable them to produce sounds that are lower than expected for their body size making them sound larger than they actually are - a common phenomenon in animal communication.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have now shown that bonobos are the only example were the mismatch in sound production runs counter to exaggerating body size. Given that bonobos and chimpanzees overlap in body size and mass, this difference is rather unexpected. The researchers explored morphological structures of the larynx, the sound producing organ of mammalian species. A close look at the vibrating parts of the larynx revealed that the differences in voice correspond with vocal fold length: those of chimpanzees are twice as long as those of bonobos.

Important to note is that bonobos are exceptional in other ways. Highly unusual compared to most other species is that females can dominate males. Bonobos are also very tolerant towards in-group - and especially out-group - bonobos as compared to their sister species chimpanzees. "Thus, one possible explanation for the high voice of both male and female bonobos, is that it signals tolerance to in-group and out-group bonobos, facilitating non-aggressive interactions between them," concludes Gottfried Hohmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and senior author of the study.
-end-


Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Related Chimpanzees Articles:

Chimpanzees modify grooming behavior when near higher ranking members
Chimpanzees modify grooming behavior when near higher ranking members.
Chimpanzees adapt their foraging behavior to avoid human contact
Research by PhD candidate Nicola Bryson-Morrison from the University of Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) suggests chimpanzees are aware of the risks of foraging too close to humans.
Genetic opposites attract when chimpanzees choose a mate
Duke University researchers find that chimpanzees are more likely to reproduce with mates whose genetic makeup most differs from their own.
Chimpanzees are 'indifferent' when it comes to altruism
New research into chimpanzees suggests that, when it comes to altruistically helping a fellow chimpanzee, they are 'indifferent.'
New study: Male chimpanzees can be players and good fathers
New research suggests that male chimpanzees are more invested in protecting their own offspring than previously thought.
Genome sequencing reveals ancient interbreeding between chimpanzees and bonobos
For the first time, scientists have revealed ancient gene mixing between chimpanzees and bonobos, mankind's closest relatives, showing parallels with Neanderthal mixing in human ancestry.
Female chimpanzees don't fight for 'queen bee' status
Male and female chimpanzees achieve social status in dramatically different ways, says a new study by Duke University primatologists.
Chimpanzees choose cooperation over competition
Tasks that require chimpanzees to work together preferred five-fold, despite opportunities for competition, aggression and freeloading.
Chimpanzees: Travel fosters tool use
Chimpanzees traveling far and for longer time periods use tools more frequently to obtain food.
Why do chimpanzees throw stones at trees?
Newly discovered stone tool-use behavior and accumulation sites in wild chimpanzees are reminiscent to human cairns.

Related Chimpanzees Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...