Sexual Behavior of Pan paniscus under Natural Conditions in the Lomako Forest, Equateur, Zaire

  • Nancy Thompson-Handler
  • Richard K. Malenky
  • Noel Badrian
Part of the The Pygmy Chimpanzee book series (EBIO)


Allusions to the flexible sociosexual behavior of the pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus) have been incorporated into the “bonobo model” of human evolution (Zihlman, 1979; Zihlman and Cramer, 1978; Zihlman et al., 1978), although data to substantiate pygmy chimpanzee sexuality is scant due to the limited number of subjects available for study in captivity and the recency of field studies of free-ranging animals. However, all laboratory and field studies to date that have examined aspects of sexual behavior (Jordan in Neugebauer, 1980; Kano, 1980; Kuroda, 1980; Patterson, 1979; Savage and Bakeman, 1978; Savage-Rumbaugh and Wilkerson, 1978; Savage-Rumbaugh et al., 1977; Tratz and Heck, 1954) have noted that the species is characterized by a high frequency of ventroventral copulation, a prolonged period of female sexual responsivity and homosexual behavior, especially between females in the form of genitogenital rubbing. Behavioral data coupled with a number of paedomorphic characters, including small size, gracile build, low degree of sexual dimorphism, reduced dentition and facial prognathism, have led some (Coolidge, 1933; Lowenstein and Zihlman, 1980; Zihlman and Cramer, 1978; Zihlman, 1979; Zihlman et al., 1978) to suggest that this “generalized” species might provide the best model for the last common ancestor of Pan, Gorilla, and Homo.


Sexual Behavior Menstrual Cycle Homosexual Behavior Pygmy Chimpanzee Sexual Swelling 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Thompson-Handler
    • 1
  • Richard K. Malenky
    • 2
  • Noel Badrian
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and EvolutionState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA

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