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Girl power! Female monkeys with female friends live LONGER, study reveals

Girl power! Female monkeys with female friends live LONGER, study reveals

  • Female white-faced capuchin monkeys with female friends tend to live longer
  • However no survival benefits were found linked to heterosexual relationships 
  • The monkeys also performed rituals with each other to test their friendship
  • The researchers think this could be an evolutionary precursor to human rituals 

Female monkeys with a tight-knit group of female friends live longer, while their male friends do not have any survival benefits, a study has found.

Researchers from he University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) studied the relationships of female white-faced capuchins with companions of all sexes and ages, to investigate any link to their survival.

They tracked interactions like grooming and foraging near to each other, as well as when they supported one another during conflict.

It was found that strong female-female relationships increase life expectancy, but interactions with adult males only had the same effect when the females provided more grooming. 

Anthropologists studied the relationships of female white-faced capuchins with companions of all sexes and ages, to investigate any link to their survival

It was found that strong female-female relationships increase life expectancy, but interactions with adult males only had the same effect when the females provided more grooming

It was found that strong female-female relationships increase life expectancy, but interactions with adult males only had the same effect when the females provided more grooming

Capuchins watch their friends to learn the most efficient way to eat hard to open fruit 

Capuchin monkeys learn the most efficient way to open fruit based on the method with the highest payoff, researchers from the University of California, Davis have found. 

They monkeys used a mixture of learning by observation and individual experience to use their canines to open fruit from Panama trees – which are lined on the inside with stinging hairs. 

This type of payoff based learning could be used by animals to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, for example due to climate change. 

Read more here

Professor Susan Perry said: ‘As humans, we assume there is some benefit to social interactions, but it is really hard to measure the success of our behavioural strategies.

‘Why do we invest so much in our relationships with others? Does it lead to a longer lifespan? Does it lead to more reproductive success? 

‘It requires a colossal effort to measure this in humans and other animals.’

Professor Perry has been directing the Lomas Barbudal Capuchin Monkey Project in Guanacaste, Costa Rica for over 30 years.

She and her team have been documenting the daily lives of hundreds of large-brained monkeys, to investigate how their relationships and behaviours may link to those of humans.

In a study, recently published in Behavioral Ecology, over 18 years of data was analysed to discover any connection between female capuchins’ social integration and their survival.

Their analysis revealed that strong female-female relationships increase life expectancy, but interactions with adult males only had the same effect when the females provided more grooming.

The types of behaviours measured in the study did not suggest that heterosexual relationships benefited survival. 

In a separate study, published two years ago in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B,  the research team discovered that the capuchins performed some rituals with each other that were intended to test their friendship. 

The researchers discovered that the capuchins performed some rituals with each other that were intended to test their friendship, including poking each other in the eyes, mouth or nose

The researchers discovered that the capuchins performed some rituals with each other that were intended to test their friendship, including poking each other in the eyes, mouth or nose

Professor Perry suggests this could be an evolutionary precursor to similar ritual practices humans use, as observed in religion or children's playgrounds

Professor Perry suggests this could be an evolutionary precursor to similar ritual practices humans use, as observed in religion or children’s playgrounds

This included poking the mouth, eye or nostril, prying open the mouth or hand to inspect it, passing objects from mouth-to-mouth and clasping the hands of their social partner.

Other customs included cupping the partner’s face, sucking on their appendage or using their back or belly as a drum – all of which could go on for up to 30 minutes.

Despite seeming irritating, the authors claim they were used most often between pairs of monkeys who do not know interact that much, and that are usually deemed particularly friendly.

Professor Perry suggests this could be an evolutionary precursor to similar ritual practices humans use, as observed in religion or children’s playgrounds.

Strongly bonded male baboons hold each other back when it comes to finding a mate, study shows 

A male baboon won’t make the best ‘swingman’, as research shows those who form strong relationships with other males hold each other back from finding a mate.

Strongly-bonded male Guinea baboons have been found to produce fewer offspring than those who spend less time socialising with the same sex.

Researchers from Göttingen, Germany analysed the behavioural and paternity data of 30 males and 50 infants collected over four years in the Niokolo-Koba National Park, Senegal.

They found that close male baboons supported each other more frequently during conflict, but had a detrimental effect on their reproductive success. 

Read more here

Strongly-bonded male Guinea baboons have been found to produce fewer offspring than those who spend less time socialising with the same sex

Strongly-bonded male Guinea baboons have been found to produce fewer offspring than those who spend less time socialising with the same sex

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