Raunchy Bonobos

If there is one species which stands alone as practically a queer superstar of the primate world it’s the bonobo. This species, Pan paniscus – our closest living relative along with the chimpanzee – is endangered and lives only in a single area of the DRC. They have, as you may have guessed, an incredibly raunchy sex life.


Almost all bonobos are bi and more than two thirds of female sex is with other females. Every couple of hours, a female engages in the wonderfully euphemistic ‘GG (genito-genital) rubbing’ with other females. Mostly done in a face to face position, GG-rubbing involves the horny apes thrusting their clitorises together, usually accompanied by the facial expressions, sounds and ‘genital engorgement’ that let everyone know they’re having a really good time. Sometimes the clitoris swells so much, the top can use it for penetrative fun as well.

The guys also get up to their fair share of gay fun. One of their favourite positions – known by the infinitely creative scientific community as ‘penis-fencing’ – involves both partners hanging from a branch facing each other, swinging their hips and rubbing dicks. They also suck. And wank. And kiss with a lot of tongue. Males and females jerk themselves off too and males use inanimate objects for that purpose. And there are orgies. And from time to time they hook up with redtail monkeys – a totally different species.

Sex is a defining point of bonobo life and is crucial for reconciliation and sharing, integrating new arrivals, forming coalitions and trade. They’ve even developed a set of hand signals to communicate what kind of fun they’re up for including 25 gestures from ‘come over here and let’s get it on’ to ‘turn around’ and ‘open your legs’ – Grindr and OkCupid eat your heart out. Most of these gestures are symbolic, but some are more abstract and some scientists think they represent the beginnings of complex language. The more sexual diversity, the more a species needs to communicate their desires. Enough said.

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