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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Chimps 'raid' fruit to lure mates
Chimps sharing
Desirable fruits like papaya were targeted by the chimps
Experts studying the evolution of human behaviour have discovered chimpanzees will raid fruit to attract a mate.

The study found that males will abscond with fruits like papaya from nearby orchards and give it to females.

The University of Stirling research was carried out with a small chimp community in the Republic of Guinea in West Africa.

The finding is the only recorded example of regular sharing by unrelated non-provisioned wild chimpanzees.

Scientists think the chimps use the crop-raids as a way of advertising their prowess to other group members, especially the opposite sex.

The study, which took place in the village of Bossou in the Republic of Guinea, also found that males mainly shared their spoils with females of reproductive age.

'Social strategising'

Lead researcher, Dr Kimberley Hockings from the university's department of psychology said: "Such daring behaviour certainly seems to be an attractive trait and possessing a sought-after food item, such as papaya, appears to draw even more positive attention from the females.

"It is unusual behaviour as even though the major part of chimpanzees' diets consists of plant foods, wild plant food sharing occurs infrequently."

The study showed that males who shared the most food with certain females, engaged in more consort ships and received more grooming than others, including the alpha male.

Dr Hockings said that like chimpanzees, the pursuit of certain foods for humans is also strongly sex-biased.

"It has been proposed that men in hunter-gatherer societies acquire large and risky-to-obtain food packages for social strategising and to garner attention," she added.

A male chimp collects fruit for a female

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