Comparative locomotor behavior of chimpanzees and bonobos: The influence of morphology on locomotion



Results from a 10 month study of adult male and female bonobos (Pan paniscus) in the Lomako Forest, Zaire, and those from a 7 month study of adult male and female chimpanzees in the Tai Forest, Ivory Coast (Pan troglodytes verus), were compared in order to determine whether there are species differences in locomotor behavior and substrate use and, if so, whether these differences support predictions made on the basis of interspecific morphological differences. Results indicate that bonobos are more arboreal than chimpanzees and that male bonobos are more suspensory than their chimpanzee counterpart. This would be predicted on the basis of male bonobo's longer and more narrow scapula. This particular finding is contrary to the prediction that the bonobo is a “scaled reduced version of a chimpanzee” with little or no positional behavior difference as had been suggested. This study provides the behavioral data necessary to untangle contradictory interpretations of the morphological differences between chimpanzees and bonobos, and raises a previously discussed (Fleagle: Size and Scaling in Primate Biology, pp. 1–19, 1985) but frequently overlooked point–that isometry in allometric studies does not necessarily equate with behavioral equivalence. Several researchers have demonstrated that bonobos and chimpanzees follow the same scaling trends for many features, and are in some sense functionally equivalent, since they manage to feed and reproduce. However, as reflected in their morphologies, they do so through different types and frequencies of locomotor behaviors. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.