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Friendship and Trust Are Very Important to Chimpanzees

A young chimpanzee family, thinking of how to get ahead in life

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Evolution has been a controversial issue ever since a man named Charles Darwin came up with the theory of it while eating 40 endangered turtles on his ship. Humans, like their predecessors, are very social animals. But a new research from Kenya shows that friendship and trust are very important to chimpanzees.

In an attempt to find out exactly how much of a social creature is the chimpanzee, a team of researchers observed several of the animals in Kenya, and found out that social relations, friendship, and trust are very important to the primates.

The researchers looked at 15 chimps from the Kenyan Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and the interactions between them – like eating together and grooming – for five months, in order to determine which of them were close friends.

After the initial 5 month period was up, the researchers taught the chimpanzees how to engage in an activity named the “trust game”.

What the trust game implied was for two of the animals to be paired up, and one of them to get the chance of pulling one of two ropes.

The first “no trust rope” opened up a compartment that delivered to the primate a somewhat decent snack – two pieces of banana, while the other one, the “trust rope” opened a different compartment that gave the second chimp a better snack – three pieces of banana and three slices of apple.

The idea of the game was to see if the apes would get the snack for themselves, or if they would opt to give the larger and tastier snack to the other ape, trusting that they would share it.

As expected, after performing the exercise several times, with several friend – friend, friend – not friend, not friend – not friend groupings of chimps, the researchers found that those chimps that were friends had a much higher chance of pulling the trust rope, confident that their friends would share the better snack.

Additionally, those chimps that pulled the trust rope and received some of the other chimp’s snacks, if they weren’t already friends, they tended to start bonding.

This shows that chimps don’t form their social relationships based on a reward system, instead forging deep emotional bonds just like human beings.

And just like human beings, they trust each other, like spending time with each other, and are even get upset when they get their trust broken.

Image source: Flickr

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