Play in adult bonobos (Pan paniscus): Modality and potential meaning

The aim of this study was to thoroughly investigate social play and its modalities among adult bonobos. We evaluated how play intensity varies according to the sex-class combination of the playmates and we also performed an analysis on social locomotor-rotational movements (L-R play) and contact interactions (C play). Rough and gentle play sessions were performed with comparable frequencies by male-female and female-female adult dyads, with play signals unlikely when the playmates strongly differed in age and in rank position. L-R play rates did not differ according to the sex-combination of the players; in contrast, C play sessions were particularly frequent among females. Play faces (play signals) were significantly higher during C play than L-R play sessions, thus suggesting that playmates assess reciprocally yet safely their relationships by using facial displays to avoid any kind of misunderstanding. Play was positively correlated with grooming and contact sitting interactions, suggesting that it may be used as a social enhancer. Finally, we found no correlation between both play contexts (L-R and C play) and age, size and rank differences of the players. In conclusion, we suggest that bonobos with their egalitarian society, peculiar social structure, and playful tendency represent an attractive testing subject to examine empirically many emerging hypotheses on adult play behavior. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

The aim of this study was to thoroughly investigate social play and its modalities among adult bonobos. We evaluated how play intensity varies according to the sex-class combination of the playmates and we also performed an analysis on social locomotor-rotational movements (L-R play) and contact interactions (C play). Rough and gentle play sessions were performed with comparable frequencies by male-female and female-female adult dyads, with play signals unlikely when the playmates strongly differed in age and in rank position. L-R play rates did not differ according to the sex-combination of the players; in contrast, C play sessions were particularly frequent among females. Play faces (play signals) were significantly higher during C play than L-R play sessions, thus suggesting that playmates assess reciprocally yet safely their relationships by using facial displays to avoid any kind of misunderstanding. Play was positively correlated with grooming and contact sitting interactions, suggesting that it may be used as a social enhancer. Finally, we found no correlation between both play contexts (L-R and C play) and age, size and rank differences of the players. In conclusion, we suggest that bonobos with their egalitarian society, peculiar social structure, and playful tendency represent an attractive testing subject to examine empirically many emerging hypotheses on adult play behavior. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Search