Sociosexual behaviour in wild chimpanzees occurs in variable contexts and is frequent between same-sex partners

In: Behaviour
Aaron A. Sandel Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, 2201 Speedway, Austin, TX 78712, USA

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Rachna B. Reddy Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

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Many animals engage in sociosexual behaviour, including that between same-sex pairs. Bonobos (Pan paniscus) are famous for their sociosexual behaviour, but chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) apparently do not engage in sociosexual behaviour frequently. However, sociosexual behaviour in chimpanzees may have been overlooked. We observed 584 instances of sociosexual behaviour in chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda during three years of study. All ages and sexes engaged in sociosexual behaviour, which included mounting, touching of genitals, and pressing genitals together. Most sociosexual behaviour was between adult males. Sociosexual behaviour was often during tense contexts, such as subgroup reunions and during territorial behaviour. Among males, grooming and dominance rank relationships do not explain patterns of sociosexual behaviour. Although sociosexual behaviour may be less frequent in chimpanzees than in bonobos, and bonobos remain distinct in their genito-genital rubbing, our findings suggest that sociosexual behaviour is a regular part of chimpanzee behaviour.

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