In a not-so-surprising-but-still-fascinating twist, researcher Cristina Gomes, along with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, recorded chimpanzees trading sex for food in the Tai Forest of the Ivory Coast.
In a June 2004 Wenner-Gren Foundation grant study, she and her colleagues recorded grooming, aggression, aggressive support, food sharing, and copulations as traded biological commodities on the meat market. Male and female chimps groomed other chimps that groomed them in return, supporting Cristina’s original hypothesis that grooming suggests an exchangeable complex biological market.
Her second study, published this week on April 8th, shows an interesting tweak on her commodities market theory: since females do not often hunt other animals, they trade sex in exchange for meat. Cristina wrote in PLoS ONE, “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.”
Not only is this observation fascinating, but the long-term effects, as well. Males do share meat for sex, but they are also sharing … for the sake of sharing, which means in the long run, they get more sex since they cultivate their female counterparts. As the females get more protein in their diet, they are more likely to come into estrous, and once pregnant, carry a healthier offspring. Survival of the fittest, a natural phenomenon that occurs in all life, is outplayed here as the gene pool expands and a sharing male’s genetic spawn continue the same tradition … if they are smart, that is.
Anthropologists must be all over this study, to determine if men will have a greater copulative success rate by bringing better quality produce home from local farmer’s markets. Sharing is caring.
It is a biological fascination to make connections between species, especially when they can be directly related to the human experience. If male chimps cultivate a food caretaker mentality, how do human males outplay a similar enactment? How do human females respond, and what, exactly, is it that women are looking for in a man? It is the eternal question that neither sex may fully be able to pie graph for one other.
While chimps trade meat for sex, women get bigger, better, and more orgasms if their partner has a good chunk of money available. In another fascinating study, Dr. Thomas Pollet, a Newcastle University psychologist who, frankly, is quite young himself, recently submitted research that suggested “the wealthier a man is, the more frequently his partner has orgasms.” Pollet believes this phenomena is an evolutionary adaptation, hard-wired into women, “suggesting that women are inherently programmed to be gold-diggers.”
And meat shoppers, but of course, not their own meat–man’s meat.
You heard it here, The Melon.