Adolescent male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) form social bonds with their brothers and others during the transition to adulthood

Aaron A. Sandel, Kevin E. Langergraber, John C. Mitani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Social relationships play an important role in animal behavior. Bonds with kin provide indirect fitness benefits, and those with nonkin may furnish direct benefits. Adult male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) exhibit social bonds with maternal brothers as well as unrelated adult males, facilitating cooperative behavior, but it is unclear when these bonds develop. Prior studies suggest that social bonds emerge during adolescence. Alternatively, bonds may develop during adulthood when male chimpanzees can gain fitness benefits through alliances used to compete for dominance status. To investigate these possibilities and to determine who formed bonds, we studied the social relationships of adolescent and young adult male chimpanzees (N = 18) at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Adolescent male chimpanzees displayed social bonds with other males, and they did so as often as did young adult males. Adolescent and young adult males frequently joined subgroups with old males. They spent time in proximity to and grooming with old males, although they also did so with their age peers. Controlling for age and age difference, males formed strong association and proximity relationships with their maternal brothers and grooming relationships with their fathers. Grooming bonds between chimpanzee fathers and their adolescent and young adult sons have not been documented before and are unexpected because female chimpanzees mate with multiple males. How fathers recognize their sons and vice versa remains unclear but may be due to familiarity created by relationships earlier in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23091
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • development
  • kinship
  • paternal relationships
  • social relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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