Selling sex is said to be humankind's oldest profession but it may
have deep evolutionary roots, according to a study into our primate
cousins which found that male macaques pay for intercourse by using
grooming as a currency.
Michael Gumert of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore made
the discovery in a 20-month investigation into 50 long-tailed macaques
in Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia, New Scientist reports on Saturday.
On average, females had sex 1.5 times per hour.
But this rate jumped to 3.5 times per hour immediately after the
female had been groomed by a male - and her partner of choice was
likely to be the hunky monkey that did the grooming.
Market forces at work
Market forces also acted on the value of the transaction.
If there were several females in the area, the cost of buying sex
would drop dramatically - a male could "buy" a female for just eight
minutes of nit-picking.
But if there were no females around, he would have to groom for up
to 16 minutes before sex was offered.
The work supports the theory that biological market forces can
explain social behaviour, the British weekly says.
"There is a very well-known mix of economic and mating markets in
the human species itself," said Ronald Noe of France's University of
"There are many examples of rich old men getting young attractive
ladies." – (Sapa-AFP)