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The way to a chimpanzee's heart is through its stomach
Date:1/16/2014

This news release is available in German.

The ability to form long-term cooperative relationships between unrelated individuals is one of the main reasons for human's extraordinary biological success, yet little is known about its evolution and mechanisms. The hormone oxytocin, however, plays a role in it. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, measured the urinary oxytocin levels in wild chimpanzees after food sharing and found them to be elevated in both donor and receiver compared to social feeding events without sharing. Furthermore, oxytocin levels were higher after food sharing than after grooming, another cooperative behaviour, suggesting that food sharing might play a more important role in promoting social bonding. By using the same neurobiological mechanisms, which evolved within the context of building and strengthening the mother-offspring bond during lactation, food sharing might even act as a trigger for cooperative relationships in related and unrelated adult chimpanzees.

Humans and a few other social mammals form cooperative relationships between unrelated adults that can last for several months or years. According to recent studies the hormone oxytocin, which facilitates bonding between mother and offspring, likely plays a role in promoting these relationships. In chimpanzees, for instance, increased urinary oxytocin levels are linked to grooming between bonding partners, whether or not they are genetically related to each other.

To examine the ways in which oxytocin is associated with food sharing, Roman Wittig and colleagues of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have collected and analyzed 79 urine samples from 26 wild chimpanzees from Budongo Forest in Uganda w
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Contact: Dr. Roman Wittig
wittig@eva.mpg.de
49-341-355-0204
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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