Sex for meat - how chimps seduce their mates

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Wednesday, 8 April 2009



A study has found that male chimps who share meat with females are twice as 
likely to mate 

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Female chimpanzees living in the wild have been found to engage in a form of 
prostitution by offering sex in exchange for meat from male chimps.

Scientists have found that the bartering of meat for sex takes place over long 
periods of time and forms part of the social fabric of a troop of wild chimps 
living in the Tai National Park in the Cote d'Ivoire.

Anthropologists have previously suggested that early human societies engaged in 
meat-for-sex behaviour with the best male hunters having the greatest number of 
sexual partners. The latest findings support the hypothesis, scientists said. 
"Our results strongly suggest that wild chimpanzees exchange meat for sex, and 
do so on a long-term basis," said Cristina Gomes of the Max Planck Institute 
for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. "Males who shared meat with 
females doubled their mating success, whereas females, who had difficulty 
obtaining meat on their own, increased their calorific intake without the 
energetic costs and potential risk of injury related to hunting," Dr Gomes said.

Both male and female chimpanzees are sexually promiscuous but males who share 
their meat with females are rewarded with more copulations, the scientists 
found in a study published on-line in the Public Library of Science. 

"Previous studies might not have found a link because they focused on 
short-term exchanges, or perhaps in those groups access to females was driven 
by male coercion so females rarely chose their mating partners," Dr Gomes said. 
"This will have an impact on our studies of men and women."



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