What Bonobos Can Teach Us

10/20/10
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Vanessa Woods

Vanessa Woods is an award-winning journalist and author who studies the cognitive development of chimpanzees and bonobos at sanctuaries in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bonobos share 98.7% of our DNA. Physically, they resemble chimpanzees. But something remarkable sets them apart from their primate cousins, making them an altogether different animal. Bonobos live in almost complete absence of violence; work cooperatively toward shared goals; foster a society that values equality; and engage in prolific casual sex. Could these gentle, promiscuous creatures hold the key to a world without war? Vanessa Woods, author of Bonobo Handshake, discusses what we might learn from our evolutionary relatives with anthropologist Brian Hare and NPR RadioLab’s Jad Abumrad.