Baboon buddies

Researchers recently found that baboons will have opposite gender friends, but they’re not sure why, particularly what the males get out of the male-female friendship. I love the BBC headline, that baboon females will “exploit” their male friends. Great attitude, guys…

“Male and female baboons form platonic friendships, where sex is off the menu.

Having a caring friend around seems to greatly benefit the females and their infants, as both are harassed less by other baboons when in the company of their male pal.

But why the males choose to be platonic friends remains a mystery.

The finding published in Behavioral Sociobiology and Ecology also suggests that male baboons may be able to innately recognise their offspring.”

The male buddies were not the genetic fathers, nor had they copulated with the female around the time the infant was conceived.

Nguyen, the baboon researcher, suggests “that by chaperoning a female in a platonic relationship, a male might advertise his parental skills to other females, who then might consider him a worthy partner. But as yet, there’s no evidence for this or any other reason why males become chaperones. However, for the females, the benefits of having a chaperone are clear.”

Females and their infants don’t get harassed as much when there’s a dude around.


Rent a Friend

This just makes me sad: Japan, with one of the most dense populations, is also one of the most lonely and isolated. So lonely that Japanese people have started renting cats, dogs, drinking buddies, and even pretend family members.

Most Japanese people interviewed for the story say they rent family members because they wanted guidance on an issue but can’t talk to their own family members about it. Now in a way hiring someone to talk to is similar to people in the U.S. paying counselors to listen to and hash out their problems. And lots of Americans can’t have pets and so they volunteer at animal shelters or go play with their friends’ dogs, or just religiously visit cuteoverload.com. But the fact that Japanese people feel they have to pay to have companionship, even just to have a dog sit on the couch and watch T.V. with them, is just a sad statement of how far humans have gone from being the social, close-knit, small-tribe or village types we once were, and were for the majority of human history.