Some Male, Mom Baboons 'Just Friends'

Primatologists baffled by sexless simian friendships
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2009 5:26 AM CDT
A baboon holds on to a signpost directing people to Miller's Point, South Africa.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File)
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(Newser) – Scientists are trying to figure out why many male baboons enter into platonic friendships with single moms, the BBC reports. Researchers probing relationships within baboon tribes found that the friendships, which did not appear to involve sex in about half the instances, helped mother and offspring dodge the unwanted attentions of other male baboons—but offered no apparent benefits to the male baboon in the "friend zone."

"We found direct evidence that friendships provided a social benefit to mothers and infants," said one primatologist. "We really don't know what these guys got out of the friendship, other than maybe spending time with a mum and a new baby and having other females seeing this." (Read more baboon stories.)