Fighting your way through friends, bullying colleagues or even getting angry, science once again confirms that annoying behavior is rewarded. And not just in humans, but also in chimpanzees.
According to a study, male chimps who bully others, are greedy and quick to anger move up the social chimp ladder and are more successful in producing cheeky little monkeys than their unassuming, conscientious peers. new search. But if that’s the case, British and American researchers ask, why aren’t all chimpanzees bullies?
They tracked 28 males to Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Previous research has shown that some chimpanzees are more social and others are more solitary. Some are easy going while others pick fights often. In short: each chimpanzee has its own character, concluded the researchers, who observed the animals almost daily for years.
The new study revealed another interesting (but annoying) fact: Male chimpanzees who are both dominant and unconscientious do better in life. “They generally have higher dominance scores,” said researcher Joseph Feldblum. duke university off on Scientias.nl. “This is important because we have already shown that males reaching the highest rank produce a disproportionate amount of offspring. As we write in the study, male chimpanzees compete for access to females for mating and dominance is an important means of reproductive success.Secondly, we also found that males with high dominance (but not those with low consciousness) were more likely to sire offspring.All this after accounting for other possible factors Feldblum’s conclusion is therefore: “Personality matters.
You might not find it surprising that bullying has such benefits in life, but it leads to an interesting question: whether males with certain traits are more likely to reach the top and breed – and therefore their genes to pass on to their offspring – why don’t all males become like this? In other words, why are there character differences? “It’s an evolving puzzle,” says Feldblum.
One of the theories is that different character traits are useful at different times in life. Maybe aggressive behavior is helpful for young males, but older chimps benefit from a bit of friendliness. “Think of some qualities that are very useful in high school, for example, but not later on in the workplace. It’s a compromise,” says researcher Alexander Weiss.
The research team decided to test this hypothesis using 37 years of data dating back to Jane Goodall’s early work at Gombe in the 1970s.
So there must be another explanation. The ideal character may depend on the environment in which the chimpanzees find themselves or on social factors. Also, some traits may be beneficial for males, but not for females. If so, the genes linked to these traits will continue to circulate in the population.
It may seem perfectly normal to talk about a chimpanzee’s personality, but not so long ago it was taboo. Jane Goodall herself was accused of anthropomorphism when she described some chimpanzees in Gombe as being tougher or more fearful than others and some having a more affectionate or cold character.
But a lot has changed since then: scientists have been able to distinguish different traits in all kinds of animals, from birds to squid. And these traits have been shown to stay the same in different situations and over long periods of time. Weiss says the characters are just as consistent in animals as they are in humans. “Data contradicts skepticism.”
Daily monkey sighting
However, there is still much to study. “We found evidence that dominant and non-conscientious behavior leads to reproductive success, but there may also be other traits such as openness and extraversion that are beneficial, for example, to life expectancy. male life or female position,” says Feldblum, who is very enthusiastic. it’s about research. “It’s great that character traits can be classified in this way and say something about the social dynamics of chimpanzees in Gombe. This is only possible because local Tanzanian researchers have such an intimate relationship with chimpanzees, which was possible because they have been monitoring the population daily for decades. Our research would not be possible without their work.
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