Forbidden fruit: Chimp ladies love it
Pilfered fruit that is boldly plucked under the farmer's gaze may be the secret to stolen love, at least for wild male chimpanzees and their consorts, according to British researchers.
reports that wild chimps in West Africa steal fruit from the local farms to impress the ladies, and it seems to pay off.
"The adult male who shared most with this female engaged in more consortships with her and received more grooming from her than the other adult males, even the alpha male," said Hockings, whose study appears in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One.
"Such daring behavior may be considered an attractive trait," Hockings said in comments e-mailed to Reuters.
They studied the crop-raids made by wild male chimpanzees in the West African village of Bossou. And it is the only recorded example of routine sharing of plant foods by chimps who are not related, according to the researchers.
They seemed to favor papaya, likely because it is large and easy to share, but oranges and pineapple also scored well.
Hockings said that possessing a desirable food item may draw extra positive attention to an individual male and help establish or cement adult male chimpanzee's relationships.
Adult males were most likely to share such foods obtained in exposed locations and in the presence of local people. "Crop-raiding adult males may be advertising prowess to other group-members," she said.
Hockings said the males showed signs that the risky behavior was nerve-racking. They observed self-scratching, a behavior pattern involving large movements of the arm that suggests anxiety.
This behavior was 4 times higher when adult male chips stole and ate the cultivated food compared with wild food. And stolen foods were shared much more frequently than wild plant foods.
There you have it. Now you know how to be a hit with the ladies if you ever find yourself among chimps.