It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“In animals as diverse as African elephants and barnyard mice, blue monkeys of Kenya and feral horses of New Zealand, affiliative, longlasting and mutually beneficial relationships between females turn out to be the basic unit of social life, the force that not only binds existing groups together but explains why the animals’ ancestors bothered going herd in the first place.” (“The Spirit of Sisterhood Is in the Air and on the Air.”; New York Times 4/23/2012)
You guys, this is so cool! I’m not even much of an animal lover, but this article from this week’s Times science section is pretty fascinating. We already knew that animals need friends—but did you know that female animals need female animal friends? I didn’t.
“Female chacma baboons with strong sororal bonds have lower levels of stress hormones, live significantly longer and rear a greater number of offspring to independence than do their less socialized peers.”
“Wild mares with female friends are harassed less often by stallions and have more surviving foals than do mares that lack social ties.”
“Female mice allowed to choose a friend as a nesting partner will bear more pups than females forced to share straw space with a mouse they dislike.”
“Female elephants keep in touch with their chums through frequent exchanges of low-pitched vocalizations called rumbles”… that scientists say they “liken to an elephant cell phone.”
I don’t even know what a chacma baboon is! But still, this is awesome.
The article goes on to explain the necessary number of friends for female animals (three) and how to spot BFFs (suckling each others’ lion cubs, or touching trunks, for example). But I’ll stop summarizing. If you love stories of animals BFFs—remember Tarra and Bella?—you should just read it.
I love friendship research because it reminds me that I’m not just some girl whining about missing her friends. It says that science is on my side. And this goes one step further. It says, “Rachel, you’re just like all the other ladies of the animal kingdom.”
Be warned, I gotta say it: I am woman, hear me roar.
Does this surprise you? Ever actually seen any animal BFFs?