Food sharing is linked to urinary oxytocin levels and bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees.

Roman M. Wittig, Catherine Crockford, Tobias Deschner, Kevin Langergraber, Toni E. Ziegler, Klaus Zuberbühler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

92 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Humans excel in cooperative exchanges between unrelated individuals. Although this trait is fundamental to the success of our species, its evolution and mechanisms are poorly understood. Other social mammals also build long-term cooperative relationships between non-kin, and recent evidence shows that oxytocin, a hormone involved in parent-offspring bonding, is likely to facilitate non-kin as well as kin bonds. In a population of wild chimpanzees, we measured urinary oxytocin levels following a rare cooperative event--food sharing. Subjects showed higher urinary oxytocin levels after single food-sharing events compared with other types of social feeding, irrespective of previous social bond levels. Also, urinary oxytocin levels following food sharing were higher than following grooming, another cooperative behaviour. Therefore, food sharing in chimpanzees may play a key role in social bonding under the influence of oxytocin. We propose that food-sharing events co-opt neurobiological mechanisms evolved to support mother-infant bonding during lactation bouts, and may act as facilitators of bonding and cooperation between unrelated individuals via the oxytocinergic system across social mammals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20133096
Number of pages1
JournalProceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
Volume281
Issue number1778
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

attachment behavior
Pan troglodytes
oxytocin
Oxytocin
cooperatives
Food
food
Mammals
mammal
social cohesion
mammals
cooperative behavior
Grooming
grooming
grooming (animal behavior)
lactation
Lactation
Cooperative Behavior
hormone
Mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Food sharing is linked to urinary oxytocin levels and bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees. / Wittig, Roman M.; Crockford, Catherine; Deschner, Tobias; Langergraber, Kevin; Ziegler, Toni E.; Zuberbühler, Klaus.

In: Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, Vol. 281, No. 1778, 2014, p. 20133096.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wittig, Roman M. ; Crockford, Catherine ; Deschner, Tobias ; Langergraber, Kevin ; Ziegler, Toni E. ; Zuberbühler, Klaus. / Food sharing is linked to urinary oxytocin levels and bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees. In: Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. 2014 ; Vol. 281, No. 1778. pp. 20133096.
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