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Aerden
aerden
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July 2017
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Aerden [userpic]
Bonobos are an Endangered Species

I was reading an article about bonobo apes being near extinction in the Congo. While reading the article, I came across this gem of a paragraph:

"Bonobos are an icon for peace and love, the world's 'hippie chimps,'" said Sally Coxe of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. "To let them die off would be a catastrophe."

What is this woman smoking?! Does she have any idea how brainless she sounds?

Ma'am--If a species' genetics dictates that its females bear only one offspring every five years, that does tend to point toward it being a species that's not likely to survive too long in the ecological scheme of things.

On the other hand, people who hunt and kill these animals for their meat are speeding up the process unnecessarily.

Current Mood: cynical*snort*
Comments

I don't wish extinction on the bonobos, but I wouldn't mind if they disappeared from popular thought. Everyone who wants to argue for unlimited sexual license cites the evolutionary similarity between humans and bonobos. When I see someone talking about bonobos I cringe, because most of the time it's the sort of nonsense you've quoted above.

Bill--This is the first time I became aware that bonobos were ever in popular thought. I saw the phrase, 'hippie chimps' and wondered what it was all about. I imagined a couple of chimpanzees in a zoo wearing love beads and flowers.

What's so silly is, I think their behavior is not reason to advocate unlimited sexual license. Their behavior, I suspect, arises as a counter to their low birth rate. People who want to apply that same kind of sexual license to humans are missing the biological picture.

Chantal

Indeed, the people who actually look at the questions in any depth recognize what you're seeing. But there are many, many people who sing the praises of bonobos in the ... ahem ... alternative communities. As a practitioner of responsible non-monogamy I get really tired of it, because having the love live of a bonobo would be the most irresponsible thing I can imagine.

You can't argue that bearing offspring only once every five years is a genetic disadvantage: if it was, it would never have come about.

It is only a genetic disadvantage based on a current massive environmental shift - quite arguably mainly human proliferation.

Plus, comparatively, I can name one species that is reacting to the environment by steadily reducing the amount of children it bears, and bearing children much closer to an age where lethal mutation and deficiency become the standard. That is arguably also genetically not viable, long term.

It is disadvantageous. There's no argument. They may now be in a different ecological situation from when it didn't pose a problem. But in their current situation, it's not an advantage.

Those humans who decide to bear only one child at a late date are also at a genetic disadvantage. Of course, that is not true of all humans, only certain groups in the first world.

It can also be suggested that not having bulletproof skin is disadvantageous in their current ecological situation, but we find it harder to criticise that failing?

I don't think a species habit of procreating slowly is enough reason to justify their demise when it's primarily down to mankind.

And [grin] I know late childbearing is a first-world phenomenon. Making a point.

It can also be suggested that not having bulletproof skin is disadvantageous in their current ecological situation, but we find it harder to criticise that failing?

I don't consider it a failing as I neither consider the low birth rate of bonobos to be a failing. It's not a criticism, it's simply a genetic disadvantage. I think you're putting a moral component on a biological fact.

I don't think a species habit of procreating slowly is enough reason to justify their demise when it's primarily down to mankind.

And now I'm certain you're putting a moral spin on this. The low birth rate in bonobos does not justify their gradual extinction. It's just a fact that this particular trait has put them at a disadvantage whatever the reason for the current imbalance.

Okay. Will happily admit I've completely missed your point.

You can't argue that bearing offspring only once every five years is a genetic disadvantage: if it was, it would never have come about.

Of course I can. All sorts of genetic disadvantages occur and are passed on from generation to generation. As long as they're not lethal disadvantages, the harm in them is not severe enough to cause immediate extinction of the species or rapid evolutionary correction. That doesn't change the fact that, say, red-green colorblindness is a disadvantage.

Bearing only one offspring every five years is a very slow and low birth rate. Given a large enough population of bonobos, that can be supported and dealt with, but cause any sort of stress to that population, and it can fall apart, as it is doing.

I do hope that these apes can be kept from extinction--not because they're cool 'hippie chimps,' but because I think genetic diversity is a good thing as long as it doesn't include velociraptors. (g)

What cracks me up is that their sexuality--which is probably a behavior that evolved to enable them to bear as many offspring with as wide a genetic mix as possible--is what has won them a fandom of sorts among the conservationists. I'm not quite sure whether I should giggle or roll my eyes at that.

Chantal

[shrug] You can only classify genetic disadvantages by the situation. In this situation, it's a disadvantage. A low birth rate may have positive repercussions in other situations, such as in a situation where there is little available food.