Chimps trade sex for meat
Even in forests, sex sells. A new study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany says that male chimpanzees that share meat with females double their chances of having sex with them.india Updated: Apr 08, 2009 14:10 IST
Even in forests, sex sells. A new study has found that male chimpanzees that share meat with females double their chances of having sex with them.
The study led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany has been published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE April 8.
In the study conducted in the Taï National Park, Côte d''Ivoire, Cristina M. Gomes and Christophe Boesch have shown that females copulate more frequently with males who share meat with them on at least one occasion, compared with males who never share meat with them, indicating that sharing meat with females improves a males'' mating success.
Although males were more likely to share meat with females who had sexual swellings (i.e., estrous females), excluding all sharing episodes with estrous females from the analysis, did not alter the results. This indicates that short term exchanges alone (i.e., within the estrous phase of the female) cannot account for the relationship between sharing meat and mating success.
According to Gomes, "Our results strongly suggest that wild chimpanzees exchange meat for sex, and do so on a long-term basis. Males who shared meat with females doubled their mating success, whereas females, who had difficulty obtaining meat on their own, increased their caloric intake, without suffering the energetic costs and potential risk of injury related to hunting."
She adds, "Previous studies might not have found a relationship between mating success and meat sharing because they focused on short-term exchanges; or perhaps because in those groups access to females was driven by male coercion so females rarely chose their mating partners."
Boesch concluded, "Our findings add to the ever-growing evidence suggesting that chimpanzees can think in the past and the future and that this influences their present behavior."
"These findings are bound to have an impact on our current knowledge about relationships between men and women; and similar studies will determine if the direct nutritional benefits that women receive from hunters in human hunter-gatherer societies could also be driving the relationship between reproductive success and good hunting skills," concludes Gomes.
First Published: Apr 08, 2009 13:46 IST