Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Even in Orangutans, apparently.
Now, when I read the headline "Orangutans trade favors," I thought the article was very different... Oh well.
Regardless, what the study found was that orangutans learned the fairness of trade and how to get the most of a situation. Researchers gave two orangutans a set of tokens. One token, the primates learned, gave themselves a banana. Another gave the other orangutan a banana. At first, one orangutan, was very generous to her partner, and willingly traded in tokens to give him treats. When she realized, however, he was less giving, she stopped. He, in turn, upon realizing she wasn't about to give him gifts without a few in return, started exchanging tokens in her favor. Soon both were equal in their altruism.
(It may just be me, but that sounds a lot like my relationships. You know, except the last two sentences...)
Researchers say this is the first time that "calculated reciprocity," where an animal adapts their behavior in response to another's, has been experimentally found. It logically follows on the known 'trading' and such practices found in many of the primates. "It's not just humans who expect to be given something in return when they are co-operative," Dr. Dufour, the lead in the research, told BBC News. Her findings are soon to be published in Biology Letters
However, other primates - gorillas, bonobos, etc - weren't able or weren't willing to play the game. I guess they simply don't have the Christmas spirit.