Study Says Female Chimpanzees Secretly Seek Rendezvous with Males outside Social Group

By Ap | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 22, 1997 | Go to article overview

Study Says Female Chimpanzees Secretly Seek Rendezvous with Males outside Social Group


Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


There may be more monkey business going on among chimpanzees than scientists once thought.

A study suggests that half of all chimpanzees may be conceived when females sneak off for risky trysts with males outside their social group. Female chimpanzees' secret sex lives come as something of a surprise to researchers, who thought that they almost always mated within their own group of 20 to 100 animals.

"When they can get away with it, they sneak off and they try to expand the pool of possible fathers," said Pascal Gagneaux, a professor at the University of California at San Diego. Working with David Woodruff, a biologist at the university, and Christophe Boesch of the Basel Zoological Institute in Switzerland, Gagneaux painstakingly worked out the genetic family tree of a chimpanzee group living in the Tai Forest of West Africa's Ivory Coast. The findings were published in today's issue of the journal Nature. Between 1991 and 1995, he and his colleagues collected DNA samples from all 52 members of the Tai Forest group. The DNA came from hair - collected from chimpanzee sleeping nests by researchers who climbed trees more than 100 feet tall - and from chewed fruit, which yielded cells from inside the mouth. …

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