[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Male chimpanzees often compete aggressively for mates. Now researchers have observed a friendlier behavior that males use to woo potential partners: they exchange meat for sex. The findings appeared online in the Public Library of Science.
The “sex for food” hypothesis suggests that a male ups his reproductive odds and a female gets calories and the genes of a good provider, without the risks involved with hunting. But previous studies found little correlation between sharing and mating success.
One explanation, the researchers say, is that such studies focused on males looking for a quick payoff by giving only to females actively in estrous and ready to mate. This new study followed males that shared food with their lady friends long before things got physical. And this long-term generosity doubled a male’s chances of taking his relationship to the next level. It’s more proof, the researchers say, that our closest relatives act with consideration to both past occurrences and future plans. And maybe that tall, hairy and handsome can’t compete with a free lunch.
—Steve Mirsky, with reporting by Adam Hinterthuer