Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationGeorge Washington U.
Grant numberGr. 9466
Approve DateApril 25, 2017
Project TitleLee, Sean M., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'Prosocial and Craniofacial Ontogeny in Wild Chimpanzees and Bonobos: A Test of the Self-domestication Hypothesis,' supervised by Dr. Carson M. Murray
SEAN M. LEE, then a graduate student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on ‘Prosocial and Craniofacial Ontogeny in Wild Chimpanzees and Bonobos: A Test of the Self-domestication Hypothesis,’ supervised by Dr. Carson M. Murray. This project aimed to generate data on the behavioral and morphological development of wild populations of bonobos (LuiKotale, Democratic Republic of Congo) and chimpanzees (Gombe, Tanzania), which will be used to evaluate the self-domestication hypothesis. Captive data on the development of these two species support the self-domestication hypothesis, which posits that selection against aggression in bonobos results in their reduced aggression and craniofacial robusticity relative to chimpanzees, and that these differences arise via development in a manner analogous to domesticates who have undergone intentional selection against aggression. However, empirical evidence from wild populations are needed to determine whether these patterns representative of self-domestication are evident under natural conditions. Some researchers have suggested that humans have also undergone self-domestication, as selection against aggression is thought to have facilitated a number of human traits, enhanced social learning capabilities, early-emerging cooperative-communicative behaviors, and gracile craniofacial features. Understanding more about the self-domestication of bonobos, who along with chimpanzees are humans’ closest living relatives, can thus provide insight into possible self-domestication of humans.