Although diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, new research shows that female chimpanzees eschew compressed carbon in favour of raw muscle and are willing to exchange sex for it.
According to the BBC, Cristina Gomes and colleagues, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, have determined that chimpanzees will enter into "deals" whereby they exchange meat for sex, according to researchers. This has a distinct benefit for males as those that are willing to share the proceeds of their hunting expeditions mate twice as often as their more selfish counterparts.
The long-term exchange, so males continue to share their catch with females when they are not fertile, copulating with them when they are. "By sharing, the males increase the number of times they mate, and the females increase their intake of calories," said Dr Gomes. "What's amazing is that if a male shares with a particular female, he doubles the number of times he copulates with her, which is likely to increase the probability of fertilising that female."
Previous attempts to record the phenomenon failed, because researchers looked for direct exchanges, where a male shared meat with a fertile female and copulated with her right away. "We looked at chimps when they were not in oestrus, this means they don't have sexual swellings and aren't copulating" said Dr Gomes. "The males still share with them - they might share meat with a female one day, and only copulate with her a day or two later."
Michael Gurven from the University of California in Santa Barbara studies human behaviour in communities of hunter-gatherers in South America. He told BBC News that the direct link between success in hunting and reproduction highlighted by this study could "help in our thinking about humans." He added that the nature of this exchange of meat for sex is "kind of like pair bonding in humans, because it's long-term.
Once again, I have no comment. I simply found this fascinating.