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

(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."

A baboon holds on to a signpost directing people to Miller's Point, South Africa.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File)
A group of baboons is seen near a village in Saudi Arabia.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A baboon feeds her cub in their enclosure at the zoo in Nuremberg, southern Germany.   (AP Photo/Christof Stache)
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Males should be off trying to get other females to mate with them, not squandering their time on a female with a young infant. - Primatologist Nga Nguyen

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