International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 261–276

Behavioral laterality in captive bonobos (Pan paniscus): Replication and extension

  • William D. Hopkins
  • Frans B. M. de Waal

DOI: 10.1007/BF02735481

Cite this article as:
Hopkins, W.D. & de Waal, F.B.M. Int J Primatol (1995) 16: 261. doi:10.1007/BF02735481


We report observational data on behavioral laterality in 10 captive bonobos (Pan paniscus)at the San Diego Zoo. The unimanual measures include carrying, leading limb in locomotion, self-touching, face-touching, reaching, and gestures. We also recorded bimanual feeding in these subjects. A significant population level left-hand bias exists for carrying. Right-hand biases occur for leading limb in locomotion and gestures. During bimanual feeding, the bonobos hold food items with the left hand while feeding with the right hand. Overall, bonobos exhibit behavioral asymmetries that are similar to previous findings in other pongid ape species. The asymmetries in gestures and bimanual feeding represent novel findings with theoretical implications for the origins of tool use and language.

Key words

behavioral lateralitycaptive bonobosbimanual feedinggestures

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • William D. Hopkins
    • 1
  • Frans B. M. de Waal
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Behavioral Biology, Yerkes Regional Primate Research CenterEmory UniversityAtlanta
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyEmory UniversityAtlanta