Animal instinct: prostitution in the animal world

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Everybody must get stones!Prostitution maybe older than we suspected. The animal kingdom has its share of prostitutes and johns. Penguins, chimpanzees, Purple-throated Hummingbird, Australian Redbacked Spider and the macaque, amongst others, use prostitution as a means for survival.

“In a recent study of macaque monkeys in Indonesia, researchers found that male primates ‘paid’ for sexual access to females.”

In the BBC program, Deep into the Wild, during episode #12 - Wild Sex - it is revealed how various members of the animal kingdom use sex as a transaction. “Sex sells ... all over the animal kingdom. Females from numerous species use prostitution to get what they want and males are eager to pay up.”

Adélie Penguins pay for love with rocks beetles offer nuptial gifts & chimps may bargain with a fruit or two. For many animals, sex is all about the right transaction.

In a 1998 research study, Dr. Fiona Hunter and Dr. Lloyd Davis from the Department of Zoology in Cambridge, England stated that a “shortage of stones led female Adélie Penguins to trade sex for stones. Some pair-bonded female penguins copulate with males who are not their mates and then take pebbles for their own nests.” Stones are the valuable currency in penguin terms.

Stones won’t cut it for human sex trade workers unless that stone is set in gold. So, guys, you’ve got to take care of your honey or she’ll get her rocks off somewhere else.

Female chimps sell sex to “the males that gather the most fruit . . . such as oranges, pineapples and maize . . . with bananas proving far less popular.” The male may also provide meat, worms or a papaya for “food-for-sex” and “food-for-grooming.” No surprise that the males have a “sexual motive” when it comes to food and sex. The better the goods he provides, the better the sex, the better the grooming. Common sense. Other males can often get more nookie than the alpha male.

The female purple-throated hummingbird from the tropical Caribbean is quite a bit smaller than the male. This gives the males an advantage to “monopolize neighborhoods with the most productive flowers.” Females are left with less profitable flowers. She needs proper nutrition to produce eggs. A male sends out a chemical signal (pheromone) when he catches his prey and the female senses this so she has to make a beeline to him before the other gals get there. He offers her a gift of food called a nuptial gift much like a box of chocolates of a human.

She chows down the meal and when she’s full she’ll allow the male to deposit his sperm. If the meal was too paltry a gift, she’ll move onto another john. A satisfying meal means that the male is a good hunter so she’ll accept his talented sperm which takes 20 minutes to fully inseminate her. The more nutritious and filling the meal is also means that “a well-fed female runs less risk of getting tangled in spider webs while searching for food.”

The male Australian Redbacked Spider is very generous with his gift to the female. After inseminating the female he throws himself into her opened mouth to give her the maximum amount of nutrients. The positive thing here is that if the male is a lousy sex partner, she won’t have to deal with his advances again.

“In a recent study of Long-tailed Macaque monkeys in Indonesia, researchers found that male primates ‘paid’ for sexual access to females.” Male Long-tailed Macaques offer an up-front payment to the female, for example he’d give the female a nit-picking session. “The better a male's odds of getting lucky, the less nit-picking time the females received.”

It all comes down to the fact that a girl does what she needs to do to survive. Life for these animals runs quite smoothly. Supply and demand, everyone gets what they want and life goes on. I could say they have a great talent for business and the need to survive. Hopefully now humans may “be less judgemental about the women who see this as a valid or necessary transaction, and be more concerned with how we protect women and girls from HIV infection and abuse.”

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