Orangutans can help each other get food by trading tokens

December 24th, 2008 - 2:19 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 24 (ANI): In a new research, scientists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have discovered that orangutans can help each other get food by trading tokens.

According to a report by BBC News, the researchers found that orangutans could learn the value of tokens and trade them, helping each other win bananas.

An article in Biology Letters has claimed that it is the first evidence of calculated reciprocity in non-human primates.

For the research, two orangutans - Bim and Dok - who live in Leipzig Zoo, Germany, were selected, who were especially good at helping each other.

Initially, they were given several sets of tokens, and learned the value of the different types.

In the beginning, Dok, the female, was especially good at swapping tokens to get bananas for Bim, the male.

Sometimes, Bim would point at the tokens to encourage her. But, he was less interested in trading tokens that would win bananas for her.

As she became less willing to help him out, Bim responded by trading more and more, until their efforts were more or less equal.

So we have a calculation behind the giving, explained Valerie Dufour, who led the research at the Scottish university. If you dont give me enough, then I dont give you either; but if you give me enough, Ok, then I buy your co-operation, and I secure it by giving too, she explained.

Though many animals exchange goods and services with each other; the researchers said that there has been no experimental evidence before of calculated reciprocity, where animals adapt their own behaviour in response to how another is helping them.

Its not just humans that calculate about giving, and its not just humans who expect to be given something in return when they are co-operative, Dufour told BBC News. Orangutans do that too, she added. (ANI)

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