September 13, 2007

The Stolen Papaya

If you are love-struck, but unsure of how to approach the girl of your dreams, invite her to your party. That's a no-brainer, of course, but wait, I have more to offer. Make sure to have papayas on the menu. A lot of papayas. Better, if you had procured them through not so honorable means — stealing them from your crusty old neighbor's tree, for example. "Bananas, oranges and pineapples, as well as rice, maize, cassava, okra, sugarcane and cacao" will also work, but not as effectively as papayas. If she still retained the Papaya Area of the brain that her ancestors may have inherited from their ancestors, meaning the chimps, you are almost guaranteed to get lucky that night.

According to primatologist Kimberley Hocking and her colleagues, sharing stolen papayas with their heartthrobs is a well-honed seduction trick, known to the wild chimpanzees found in the village of Bossou in the Republic of Guinea. Successful courtship between the chimp couple may have to span several sessions, involving several papayas stolen from the farmers of the village. Why stolen? Apparently daring and high risk behavior is an absolute turn-on for the females. Well, having seen hundreds of Bollywood movies, I always knew that nothing worked better than the line, "I'd jump off this cliff for you"!

The researchers found that the male chimp who shared the most stolen food with a female, received more grooming from her than the other males, and eventually more than grooming. Hockings speculates:

Sharing of food is such a fundamental behavior in humans. We take it for granted that we have food-sharing between unrelated people, different families. Maybe there was a tradeoff that went on with early humans as well with risk and effort paying off as a social tool for nurturing alliances or other bonds...

I think Hockings may be on to something here. Now I know how and why sharing stolen papayas has become the most common method for politicians around the world to woo voters. Only that stealing Peter's papaya to share with Paul may require little or no daring. Voters seem to be quite happy with just stolen papayas!

  1. A virus is clogging up my sinuses and not allowing my brain to ventilate. The result has been my posting a comment on the papaya topic in the modern science box...D-uh!

  2. Here's the comment that was transported by the virus to my post on the Greatest Mysteries of Science:

    Rambodoc said...
    Dangerous behavior releases the funny chemicals that give a buzz to the brain. This is probably why otherwise well settled men (Senators, for example) may indulge in risk-taking behavior. You can see this taken to an extreme in the phenomenon (I forget what it is called) where people try to asphyxiate themselves while having sex, to have supposedly incredible orgasms. People die of asphyxia, an incredible way of dying, for sure, but still others don't stop.
    So, stealing papayas must be an eroticizing activity, but perhaps fighting and winning one for a girl will yield more lubricating results!


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