Unraveling the Bonobo’s Genome, and its Secrets

Unraveling the Bonobo’s Genome, and its Secrets

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Ulindi, a female bonobo at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany, has had her genome sequenced, researchers reported, making bonobos the last of the great apes to have their genomes mapped. The resulting genetic code may help unlock the secrets that separate humans — physically, intellectually and behaviorally — from our closest primate relatives.

Bonobos are often seen as the chimpanzee’s peaceful cousin. The two primates look very similar and are very closely related, but for some reason chimps resolve conflicts with war while bonobos prefer sex to resolve arguments. Previous studies have also shown that bonobos are more generous with food than chimps are.

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