Source: The Times
Date: 21 November 2006

Male chimps put age before beauty
when searching for a mate
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter

sexy chimp?

Male chimpanzees have a penchant for a toyboy lifestyle and would far rather pair off with an older female than find one of their own age, a study has found.

To a young male chimp there is nothing so attractive as wrinkles, sagging skin and bald patches in a female who is old enough to be his great-great-grandmother.

Young women in human society can find themselves faced with a queue of men hoping to buy them a drink, but in chimpanzee communities it is the experienced female who is regarded as the epitome of beauty.

The toll that age and a life having babies can take of a female chimp is, to the virile male, merely a sign of success that promises his offspring a genetic head start in life.

So strong is the male urge to find an older partner that fights frequently break out over rights of access to the oldest female chimps in the tribe.

By contrast, the young females with all their fur, the perfect chimp complexion and a perfectly toned body can merely hope to mate with the weakest, most unwanted male specimens.

“Male chimpanzees appear to exhibit a preference for females above the median of age survival,” researchers reported in the journal Current Biology. “This study demonstrates that male chimpanzees do not merely disdain young females but actively prefer older mothers to younger mothers. Chimpanzee males may not find the wrinkled skin, ragged ears, irregular bald patches and elongated nipples of their aged females as alluring as human men find the full lips and smooth complexions of young women, but they are clearly not reacting negatively to such cues.”

The research team, led by Martin Muller, of Boston University, Massachusetts came to their conclusions after looking at chimpanzees in the Kibale National Park, Uganda.

The results suggest, they said, that the human tendency towards monogamy and a preference for mating with younger females is driven, at least in part, by the occurrence of the menopause in women. Because men know that the older a women gets the less fertile she will be, it is in their interests to choose a young female who can go on breeding for years, the study said.

Chimps, by contrast, do not go through the menopause. Equally, chimp society is not monogamous, so the male needs only to choose a partner likely to survive and breed in the short term.

Dr Muller added of the findings: “Given that the human lineage evolved from a chimpanzee-like ancestor, they indicate that male preference for youth is a derived human feature, likely adapted from a tendency to form unusually long-term mating bonds.”

* * *

Animal magic

  • Adolescent barnacle geese go out with potential mates until they find a satisfactory lifelong partner

  • We shake hands to say hello. Bonobos have sex

  • Oystercatchers are monogamous but will separate if unhappy

  • Female brown trout fake orgasms

  • The male African golden web orb spider has two penises, both of which break off during sex

  • Having sex has been shown to extend the lifespan of a species of mite known as Histiostoma feroniarum

  • Male goats are excited by displays of lesbianism

  • Ladybirds copulate for up to nine hours at a time

  • The male flour beetle is the only creature that can mate with and impregnate a female he has never met

Source: Moths that Drink Elephants’ Tears, by Matt Walker; Woodland Trust

Pretty Women
Familiar Beauty
The Brain in Love
The Elixir of Love?
Beauty and the Brain
Gender-specific Attractiveness?
Wealthy men give women more orgasms
The Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name
Why women have better sex with rich men

Future Opioids
BLTC Research
The Good Drug Guide
Utopian Pharmacology
The Hedonistic Imperative
When Is It Best To Take Crack Cocaine?