Wild female chimps trade sex for meat

April 11th, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 8 (IANS) Wild female chimps have sex more frequently with males who share meat with them over long periods of time, according to a German study. How females choose their mating partners and why males hunt and share meat with them are questions that have long puzzled scientists.

Evidence from studies on human hunter-gatherer societies suggest that men who are more successful hunters have more wives and a larger number of offspring.

Studies on wild chimps, our closest living kin, have shown that male hunters frequently share meat with females who did not participate in the hunt.

In a recent research at the Tai National Park, Cote d’Ivoire, Cristina M. Gomes and Christophe Boesch of Max Planck Institute, Germany, show 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. This indicates that sharing meat with females improves a males’ 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,” Boesch added.

“These findings are bound to have an impact on our current knowledge about relationships between men and women,” Boesch concluded, according to a Max Planck release.

These findings were published in the Wednesday issue of PLoS ONE.

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