Bonobos will give up their own meal for the company of strangers.
Scientists found that these great apes of the Congo will readily share their food and even give up their own meal to a stranger. However, it doesn't come without a price; bonobos will only share if the recipient offers them social interaction, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers Jingzhi Tan and Brian Hare of Duke University conducted a series of experiments and revealed that the bonobos would voluntarily sacrifice their food and offer it to a stranger in exchange for social interaction. Tan and Hare found that the animals' behavior was to a degree driven by unselfish motivations because bonobos helped strangers get food that was out of reach even when no social interaction was possible as a result of helping them.
However, researchers said that the generosity of the bonobo has its limits after they found that the apes would not share their own food if no social interaction was possible.
Researchers noted that while all the animals in the in the study were bonobos that had been orphaned by the bushmeat trade in Congo, the apes showed no significant psychological differences from other bonobos that had been raised by their mothers.
Researchers said that the latest findings reveal the evolution of generosity in these apes and suggest that it may have evolved to allow for the development of individual social networks.
"Our results show that generosity toward strangers is not unique to humans. Like chimpanzees, our species would kill strangers; like bonobos, we could also be very nice to strangers," Tan said in a statement.
"Our results highlight the importance of studying bonobos to fully understand the origins of such human behaviors," he added.