Vol 9, Issue 1, February 2022

The Early Bonobo Gets the Juice? The Evolutionary Roots of Pre-crastination in Bonobos (Pan paniscus)


Schwob, N., Epping, A. J., Taglialatela, J. P., & Weiss, D. J. (2022). The early bonobo gets the juice? The evolutionary roots of pre-crastination in bonobos (Pan paniscus). Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(1), 3-13. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Pre-crastination refers to the propensity to initiate tasks at the earliest possible moment. Research with human adults has found that some individuals consistently chose to transport a nearby object a further distance rather than delay initiation of the transport to select an object closer to the target. This phenomenon has never been tested in animals using analogous methods. Consequently, we tested bonobos – the species most closely related to humans - using two versions of a comparable transport task. Overall, we found that all five bonobos tended to select the first object they encountered to transport to the goal. Unlike humans, the bonobos sometimes transported both available objects. Two of the five bonobos consistently pre-crastinated, a similar proportion to that found in human experiments. However, if the pre-crastination choice was non-functional, the bonobos chose the motorically efficient choice. In sum, our findings provide an existence proof for pre-crastination tendencies in some bonobos, akin to the distribution of this trait in humans. We discuss the possibility that the pre-crastination choice represents an automatic response triggered by the affordances of the objects encountered.


Action planning, Primates, Decision making, Pre-crastination