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Female Chimps Mate For Meat

April 8, 2009

German researchers announced on Tuesday that female chimpanzees mate more often with males who give the meat.

Conducted in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire, Cristina M. Gomes and Christophe Boesch found that females copulate more with males who give them meat more often as opposed to never.

Gomes told Reuters that, “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.”

She also noted that, “Previous studies might not have found a relationship between mating success and meat sharing because they focused on short-term exchanges; or perhaps because in those groups access to females was driven by male coercion so females rarely chose their mating partners.”

Published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, Gomes and Boesch wrote that, “The meat for-sex hypothesis is a plausible explanation for male-female meat sharing in this species, as chimpanzees are highly promiscuous, they have a certain degree of female choice and hunters can usually control the sharing of their catch.”

Males most likely will give their meat away to the ladies if they were in a breeding period, but even outside of this period it was obvious that mating happened more regularly between males and the females they were frequently giving out meat to.

“Our findings add to the ever-growing evidence suggesting that chimpanzees can think in the past and the future and that this influences their present behavior,” Boesch said.

“These findings are bound to have an impact on our current knowledge about relationships between men and women; and similar studies will determine if the direct nutritional benefits that women receive from hunters in human hunter-gatherer societies could also be driving the relationship between reproductive success and good hunting skills,” Gomes added.

Image Caption: Utan, an adult male chimpanzee, holding a piece of meat of a red colobus; with Kinshasa, an adult female chimpanzee with her infant Kirikou on her back, begging from Utan. Image: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology/Cristina M. Gomes

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