Monday, May 20, 2019

"Bonobo Mothers Are Very Concerned About Their Sons’ Sex Lives"

Ed Yong:

But mothers frequently took matters into their own hands, too. As Hanna did, they would stop unrelated males from interfering with their sons’ sexual encounters. They’d interfere themselves, stopping unrelated males from mating with other females. They’d gang up with their sons to evict other males from trees with lots of females.

Surbeck thinks that the mothers use these strategies as a way of furthering their own genetic legacy. They can do this by having more children of their own, or by ensuring that their children give them more grandchildren. They have little influence over their daughters, since bonobo females tend to leave home to find their own communities. Males, however, stay with their birth group, and especially near their mothers. Even in the best-case scenario, a male bonobo can easily go through life without reproducing, and without a mother's presence, the odds of his having a kid are around one in 14. To increase the size of her own dynasty, a mother needs to ensure that her sons have the best sexual opportunities.