General, Research, Technology

What Can Chimpanzees Tell About Human Friendship?

For more than two decades, scientistswatched closely as chimpanzees form and maintain their closest social bonds. The unprecedented social insight of our immediate family comes from 78,000 hours of video collected over 21 years. It is noteworthy that the conclusions drawn from observations are important for all of us. So, according to the results of work published in the journal Science, our social connections are not so different from those that chimpanzees build among themselves. It turned out that, compared to adolescents, the social groups of the elderly tend to be closely related, and with age, we, like chimpanzees, lose our appetite for quarrels and dramas, preferring positive relationships. But why?

In the photo, the famous chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall, 1960

Chimpanzee and Homo Sapiens

In fact, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than to gorillas and other primates. But the similarities we share go far beyond our genetic makeup. Just like us Chimpanzees spend their first five years of life in play, socializing, and developing a strong bond between the baby and the mother. Chimpanzees also share food and tools with each other.

Although the human brain is larger, it is structurally identical to that of a chimpanzee. It means that chimpanzees are capable of rational thinking, abstraction and generalization. Their sight, smell, hearing and touch are also very similar to ours. Plus, they can recognize themselves in a mirror - something most animals can't do.

It is noteworthy that even the body of a chimpanzee is verysimilar to human - we have the same bones, muscles, nervous system and the same number of fingers and toes. And yet, there are many differences between chimpanzees and humans - we walk on two legs, our brains are bigger and we are not so hairy. But as we learn more and more about our intelligent and playful cousins ​​in the animal kingdom, it's impossible not to reflect on the striking number of similarities rather than the differences that divide us.

For all the notable differences between the two species, humans and chimpanzees are incredibly similar.

Interesting: A new way of communication between chimpanzees and congeners has been discovered

Social connections in the animal kingdom

British primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist JaneGoodall is one of the best specialists in the world for our closest relatives. For over 45 years, Goodall has been researching the social life and intelligence of chimpanzees. It is thanks to Jane that we know that these amazing animals, as she herself says, “kiss and hug, greet each other, slap on the shoulder, expressing support and approval. They shake hands. They touch each other when they want to relieve anxiety and stress. They are so much like us! "

But while social interactions betweenChimpanzees have been documented in the past, and researchers wondered why the dynamics of friendship declines over time and what this suggests about chimpanzee social-emotional selectivity.

As the authors of the new study write, “in humansold age is characterized by an increasing selectivity for positive, meaningful social interactions. According to the prevailing theory, the central process that generates shifts in life expectancy in society is a clear sense of future personal time and mortality.

Chimpanzees, like humans, spend their first five years with their mother.

Basically, as we humans age, wemore and more worried about making the most of the remaining time. To do this, we cultivate only those social interactions that are of greatest importance to us. By observing chimpanzee friendships for decades, scientists hoped to discover clues to the evolutionary history of this human phenomenon.

What happens with age?

In the study, scientists viewed 78,000 hours of video footage of 21 male chimpanzees, aged 15 to 58, living in Kibale National Park in Uganda. For chimpanzees in the wild, 58 is a very respectable age. On average, researchers analyzed the datafor 10.6 years per chimpanzee. In their analysis, the researchers wanted to find out if chimpanzees' social ties with close friends changed with age, and what kind of communication our closest relatives preferred.

It will be interesting for you: Aging of the body occurs in three stages: at 34, 60 and 78 years

Since chimpanzees do not express friendship in the same way ashumans, the researchers relied on similar activities, such as being next to the same individual several times a day (within 5 meters) or choosing where to sit - next to certain individuals. Positive behavior was expressed in grooming, while negative behavior included acts of aggression, such as hitting or chasing.

It is noteworthy that the authors of the work did not take into accountkinship relationship between chimpanzees. The reason, oddly enough, was that the adult males had very few, if any, maternal brothers. Scientists also ruled out female chimpanzees because they tend to be less sociable than males. Older chimpanzees showed a preference for positive actions (grooming) over aggressive ones (biting, chasing). When the researchers compared how these social activities were performed by both the younger and older chimpanzees, they saw striking similarities to what scientists had already observed in humans.

So, the number of common friends (acquaintances) among chimpanzees increases with age, while a one-way relationshipdecrease. For example, teenage chimpanzees at the age of 15 had an average of 2.1 friends and 0.9 mutual friends, while 40-year-old chimpanzees had an average of 0.6 one-way relationships and 3.0 mutual friends.

With age, chimpanzees have less one-way friendships. And here older men are more prone to lonelinessbut also communicate more with important social partners.

The findings also indicate thatthat older chimpanzees are more selective with their friends, preferring to associate with male chimpanzees of their own age, rather than young chimpanzees or females.

Interestingly, the researchers did not observe a commonincreased grooming activity between friends over time, but decreased aggressive behavior was observed. The older chimpanzees preferred quieter and more mutually beneficial activities, they said. Scientists believe that older chimpanzees continue to socialize at an older age because their bonds are not based solely on kinship.

According to the study authors, chimpanzeesdemonstrate similar tendencies in socio-emotional selectivity in relation to people. But the reasons for this can be completely different. Thus, well-established relationships may be more reliable for older chimpanzees than for other primates.

Jane Goodall is 86 today

Previous research has shown that othersprimates show great social isolation in old age. The reason may be that, unlike humans, chimpanzees build their closest relationships largely on kinship. After the death of family members, it can be difficult for these species to establish new social bonds. But what about you and me?

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It is known that people also prioritizeclose, positive relationships as we age, and the theory of social-emotional selectivity suggests that this shift depends on the ability to think about our own future. So if you have fewer friends with age, do not be surprised, since those who are next to you are the closest and most reliable people.