Wild Chimpanzees and foodies’ sex

Yes, it is true.  Female chimps are inclined to have sex with male chimps who give them meat from their hunt.   As Christina Gomez’s research has uncovered:

Humans and chimpanzees are unusual among primates in that they frequently perform group hunts of mammalian prey and share meat with conspecifics. Especially interesting are cases in which males give meat to unrelated females. The meat-for-sex hypothesis aims at explaining these cases by proposing that males and females exchange meat for sex, which would result in males increasing their mating success and females increasing their caloric intake without suffering the energetic costs and potential risk of injury related to hunting. Although chimpanzees have been shown to share meat extensively with females, there has not been much direct evidence in this species to support the meat-for-sex hypothesis. Here we show that female wild chimpanzees copulate more frequently with those males who, over a period of 22 months, share meat with them.**

Apparently people who know of the study have been asking, What does this show about human beings?  Quite frankly, I would have thought it is very clear.  There is little more sexy than his doing  housework, and preparing dinner is near the top of the list.

**Gomes CM, Boesch C (2009) Wild Chimpanzees Exchange Meat for Sex on a Long-Term Basis. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5116. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005116

5 thoughts on “Wild Chimpanzees and foodies’ sex

  1. Yes, and Bonobo females rub genitals with other bonobo females as a “friendly greeting.” Since these are sometimes considered a more peaceful species, we should then conclude that human females should engage in “friendly” lesbian greetings if we want to solve human aggression?

  2. I think it depends on what you mean by “closer.” I hear genetically that may be the case, but socially bonobos have a more developed morality and sociality that is “closer” to humans. I don’t think given recent research in epigenetics (how social environments affect gene expression) that it is wise to assume that more DNA in common = closer.

  3. Yes, but expressions of behavior do depend on the brain, and there might be differences in the brains which are crucially important psychologically. Some things that make us more bearable to live with are in chimps (to a much lower degree), but absent in Bonobos.

    Actually, I’m not sure what the import of that is, except perhaps that the basis for our morality may be quite different from the Bonobos, even though the morality can look the same. E.g., we have von economo cells in the anterior cingulate cortex which play a big role in our interactions, though bonobos lack them. (I’m buying John Allman’s work in this area, which is on the web.)

  4. There’s another article about female chimps being more inclined to have sex with males who do things for them. I’d been meaning to post it for a while, so it’s a bit old. But the claim is that females are more likely to have sex with males who groom them: here’s the article. (Actually, this is a slightly smutty write-up, I haven’t got the scholarly article to hand.)

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