Darwin Day Lecture by Dr. Amy Parish
Sex, Bonding & Dominance in Bonobos: Reflections on Our Closest Living Relatives and Ourselves
NOTE: Special day and time. No lecture on Sun., Feb. 19
What really separates “man” from “animal”, if indeed there is such a separation? About 200 species, including humans, belong to the Primate mammalian order. Like all animals, they are faced with the problems of how to survive, breed and rear offspring. The mating behavior of the apes is particularly complex and fascinating. Chimpanzee societies are typically characterized as physically aggressive, male-bonded and male-dominated, while their close relatives, the bonobos, differ in that female bonobos bond with one another, form coalitions, and dominate males.
How do these findings change our views of our evolution and ourselves? Dr. Amy Parish, a biological anthropologist, primatologist and Darwinian feminist and an expert on the social behavior of the bonobo, will explore and compare the sexual and social behavior of chimpanzees and bonobos. Some researchers are reluctant to consider, let alone acknowledge, female dominance in bonobos. Both species are equally “man’s” closest relative. The implications of understanding our origins and shared behaviors will be explored from a feminist viewpoint.
Dr. Parish is an interdisciplinary scholar who teaches at USC. She has studied the world’s captive population of bonobos for the last 25 years and was the first to characterize bonobo society as a matriarchy. In all of her research, she uses an evolutionary, bio-cultural, feminist, and interdisciplinary approach to shed light on the origins of human behavior. Her work has been featured in Ms. Magazine, and she has appeared on Nova, National Geographic Explorer, NPR, and Discovery Health Channel productions. She has given numerous public lectures worldwide; moderated an event at the L.A. Public Library honoring the 50th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique; lectured in the “First Fridays” series at L.A.’s Natural History Museum; and is a frequent interlocutor in the L.A. Public Library’s ALOUD series. In 2011, Dr. Parish completed a workshop led by actor Alan Alda on how to effectively communicate science to the public. She also is a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.
Join us for Darwin birthday cake after the talk!
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