Back in September, PLoS ONE published an article (Chimpanzees Share Forbidden Fruit), by Kimberley Hockings and colleagues, who found that male chimpanzees steal desirable fruits, like papayas, to impress their female counterparts, who trade sexual favours in return for a share of the spoils.
The article generated a lot of coverage in the media as science writers competed to come up with the best headline (you’ll have to guess which was our favourite). Some of the news stories included:
- The Telegraph (UK)– Female Chimpanzees 'Sell' Sex for Fruit
- The New York Times – Raiding and Sharing Food as a Social Tool for Chimps (and Others)
- New Scientist – Chimps Pinch Papayas to Impress Potential Mates
- The Daily Mail – Male Chimps Woo Their Female Mates with Fruity Offerings of Papaya and Pineapple
From the blogosphere:
- Lab Notes – Food for Sex!
- Greg Laden – Chimpanzee Fruit Sharing
- Afarensis – Chimps, Cultivated Fruits, and Sex
- Laelaps – Forbidden Fruit?
- Primatology.net – Male Chimps Solicit Fruit to Female Chimps for Sex
Of course, this is now old news, but while forbidden fruit is said to taste sweeter and spoil faster, this isn’t the case when it comes to the interest in and discussion of Hockings’s paper, which is still flourishing, four months after the paper’s publication.
The Animal Cognition Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, recently discussed the paper and posted their thoughts and observations as a series of comments on the Web version of the paper. The referee's report from the reviewer of the paper is also now available online.
There is certainly much food for thought here and you can join in the discussion yourself by creating an account on the PLoS ONE journal site and posting your comments for others to read.