[monkeywire] Female chimpanzees 'sell' sex for fruit
brooklynite282 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 11 18:01:01 EDT 2007
Female chimpanzees 'sell' sex for fruit
By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:01pm BST 11/09/2007
Female chimpanzees are "selling" sex to the males that gather the most
fruit, according to new research.
A chimp scales a tree (top) and another raids a village for food
(bottom) in Bossou, Guinea
A chimp scales a tree (top) and another raids a village for food (bottom)
Behavioural psychologists found that female chimps mate with the males
that give them the most fruit, while male chimps steal "desirable"
fruits such as papaya from farms and orchards in a bid to woo
Oranges, pineapples and maize are among the most sought after crops,
with bananas proving far less popular.
The scientists also discovered that the chimp that gathered the most
fruit in the "food-for-sex" trade received more grooming from females
than the group's alpha male.
Researchers from Stirling University released their findings after
studying the behaviour of chimps in the West African village of Bossou
in the Republic of Guinea.
Dr Kimberley Hockings said the findings provided the first evidence of
large-scale plant food sharing among chimpanzees with a sexual motive.
Male chimps were also said to be most likely to give food to a female
that took part in the most "consortships", where an adult female and
male move to the edge of the community where the male enjoys exclusive
Dr Hockings added: "It is unusual behaviour as even though the major
part of chimpanzees' diets consists of plant foods, wild plant food
sharing occurs infrequently.
"The male who shared the most food engaged in more consortships and
received more grooming than the other males, even the alpha male.
"Therefore the male chimpanzees appear to be 'showing off' and trading
their forbidden fruit for other currencies, for example 'food-for-sex'
"In humans, the pursuit of certain foods is also strongly sex-biased.
For example, it has been proposed that men in hunter-gatherer
societies acquire large and risky-to-obtain food packages to garner
"This research shows that chimpanzees at Bossou use crop-raiding as an
opportunity to obtain and share desirable foods, providing further
insights into the evolutionary basis of human food sharing."
The wild chimpanzee population has declined by more than two-thirds
over the last 30 years, with around 200,000 left in the wild.
Chimpanzee habitats have suffered from deforestation, while poaching,
disease and capture for the pet trade have also contributed to a drop
The group's findings, following research by scientists from Stirling
and from universities in England, Portugal, the USA and Japan, are
published in the online jounral PLoS One from the Public Library of
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