It is good to be Mommy Boy: New research shows that bonobo mothers increase the success of their son’s reproduction.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have determined their mother’s help and have increased the man’s chances of becoming a father by a factor of three.
“This is the first time we have shown the influence of the presence of mothers on male fitness that is very important, namely fertility,” primate Martin Surbecek said in a press release. “We were surprised to see that the mothers had a strong direct impact on the number of grandchildren they received.”
The researchers looked at the behavior of wild bonobo populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and wild chimpanzee populations in Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Uganda. Surbeck and his colleagues found that chimpanzees and bonobo mothers defeated their sons during fights between men.
However, the researchers looked at mothers from bonobo, who expanded their interest further. In Congo, bonobo mothers tried to interfere with their sons. Bonobomütter also interferes with the efforts of marrying other men.
In addition, Bonnobo’s mothers used their high status in matriarchal primate societies to bring their sons to socially important places and to increase their chances of gaining and maintaining high social status. Men with higher social status have a greater chance to marry women.
“In the Bonobo social system, the girls are spread by the local community and the boys remain,” Surbecek said. “And for little girls who live in communities, for whom we don’t have many examples, we don’t see that they get a lot of help from their mothers.”
This new study was published this week in Current Biology.
Scientists are currently teaching basic maternal motivation for genetic survival, but researchers hope that deeper and more comprehensive research by the bonobo community can provide additional information about the benefits of aggressive motherhood.
This is possible, scientists suggest, while the additional physiological burden of giving birth to more children is avoided, protective mothers can prolong their lives. This phenomenon can explain why women lose their ability to have children relatively earlier compared to other mammals.