For male macaques, bonding is a political move
Washington: Thought only humans make friends? Not really, as a new study has found that unrelated male macaques in the wild form close social partnerships with select males in their groups that resembles human friendships.
Moreover, it appears the motivation for those males to maintain close ties with other males is political in nature.
"We were able to show that the benefit of social bonding accrues through ''the manipulation of ones'' own and others'' social relationships,'' which is one definition of politics," said Oliver Schulke of Georg August University Gottingen in Germany.
"The bond does not directly affect access to desirable resources but helps males to climb up the social ladder and to stay up there at the cost of other males that lose their status," said Schulke.
In the current study, Schulke and his colleague Julia Ostner focused on wild male Assamese macaques living in their natural environment in Thailand.
They found that males do maintain social relationships with other males in which both members spend time together and groom one another. Those bonds aren''t confined to potential kin.
Males with stronger bonds to other males tended to form coalitions, and those coalitions predicted future social dominance, reported the researchers.
"We have shown for the first time that having close friends makes males more successful in terms of social status and paternity," said Ostner.
"Our results suggest that the universal tendency of humans to form close social ties has evolutionary roots outside the extended family," said the researchers.
"This long evolutionary history of a fundamental social trait may also explain why the loss of friendship or social integration has severe consequences for human mental and physical health," they added.
The findings were published in the Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.