This Special Issue of Behaviour includes twelve novel empirical papers focusing on the behaviour and cognition of both captive and wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). As our species less known closest relative, the bonobo has gone from being little studied to increasingly popular as a species of focus over the past decade. We suggest that bonobos are ready to come off the scientific endangered list as a result. This Special Issue is exhibit A in showing that a renaissance in bonobo research is well underway. In this Editorial we review a number of traits in which bonobos and chimpanzees are more similar to humans than they are each other. We show how this means that bonobos provide an extremely powerful test of ideas about human uniqueness as well as being crucial to determining the evolutionary processes by which cognitive traits evolve in apes. This introduction places the twelve empirical contributions within the Special Issue in the larger evolutionary context to which they contribute. Overall this Special Issue demonstrates how anyone interested in understanding humans or chimpanzees must also know bonobos.