Bats shown to form human-like friendships

February 9th, 2011 - 4:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 9 (ANI): Human-like friendships exist among at least five different types of animals, says a new research.

Previous studies determined that elephants, dolphins, some carnivores and certain non-human primates, such as chimpanzees, have the ability — just as humans do - to maintain enduring friendships in highly dynamic social environments.

Now, a new study has added bats to that list.

Female wild Bechstein’s bats prefer to literally hang out with certain friends while they also keep loose ties to the rest of their colony.

Lead author Gerald Kerth, a professor at the University of Greifswald’s Zoological Institute, said that these bat buddies mirror human ones.

Despite all of their “daily chaos, the bats are able to maintain long-term relationships,” he said.

“We do not work, play and live together with the same individuals all the time during the day and week,” Discovery News quoted him as saying.

“But nevertheless, we are able to maintain long-term relationships with our friends and our family despite our often chaotic and highly dynamic social lives,” he added.

Kerth and colleagues Nicolas Perony and Frank Schweitzer monitored colonies of the bats over a period of five years.

Male bats of this species are solitary, but females roost together in bat boxes and tree cavities. They preferred certain companions over the years.

In addition to resting together, “colony members exchange information among each other about suitable roosts, make flexible group decisions where to communally roost next, groom each other and profit from communal roosting through warming of each other,” Kerth said.

The researchers determined that the female bats did not just select their companions based on size, age, reproductive status or relatedness, although older female bats often maintained links between friend subgroups.

Kerth believes the human-like friendships likely exist among other bats living in temperate zones, since these bats often live in colonies that also frequently split and merge, a phenomenon known as “fission-fusion.”

“Fission-fusion dynamics with long-term social relationships are also found in elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees and humans,” he said.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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