11 April 2009

Wild Chimpanzees Exchange Meat for Sex on a Long-Term Basis

Supports Chapter 13: Homo Carnivorous

Vegetarians, and even more vociferously, vegans, would have us believe that all the other primates (chimpanzees, gorillas, etc) are herbivores and, that, as humans are also primates, we are also herbivores, and should not eat meat.

QED? Well, no. As I wrote in Chapter 13 of Trick and Treat, all the other primates actually eat meat as well as leaves and fruit. And this latest study demonstrates that both male and female chimpanzees are agreed: If you want a good mate to produce healthy offspring, it's the meat-eaters who are the preferred partmers.

The abstract of the study by Cristina M. Gomes and Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, is below. Click on the citation at the bottom for the complete study.


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.

We excluded other alternative hypotheses to exchanging meat for sex, by statistically controlling for rank of the male, age, rank and gregariousness of the female, association patterns of each male-female dyad and meat begging frequency of each female. Although males were more likely to share meat with estrous than anestrous females given their proportional representation in hunting parties, the relationship between mating success and sharing meat remained significant after excluding from the analysis sharing episodes with estrous females. These results strongly suggest that wild chimpanzees exchange meat for sex, and do so on a long-term basis.

Similar studies on humans will determine if the direct nutritional benefits that women receive from hunters in foraging societies could also be driving the relationship between reproductive success and good hunting skills.

Citation: 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


1 comment:

Trinkwasser said...

Must not comment on my ex wife