Aaron Sandel

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Texas, Austin, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9957

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Sandel, Aaron (Texas, Austin, U. of) "Chimpanzee social relationships and the origins of fatherhood"

In mammals, father-offspring bonds occur primarily in monogamous species, where paternity is relatively certain and fathers provide care for their offspring. Nevertheless, some primates that mate promiscuously display father-offspring relationships. Behavioral mechanisms, such as familiarity mediated by the mother and dominance rank of the father, may explain such relationships. Recently I have documented novel father-son bonds in a promiscuously-breeding primate: adolescent and young adult male chimpanzees form strong grooming bonds with their fathers at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Father-offspring bonds may be due, in part, to relationships formed when adolescent and young adults were infants and juveniles. I found that males joined subgroups with older males who associated with their mothers in the past. Here, I propose to further investigate father–offspring relationships in chimpanzees. When do such relationships first develop? Do females and males differ in their behavior with paternal kin? Are bonds with fathers a byproduct of preferences for familiar or formerly high-ranking males? Or do chimpanzees possess an undocumented kin recognition mechanism? Finally, what are the benefits of these bonds? My research will force a reevaluation of current models of the evolution of human fatherhood and raise the possibility that “fatherhood” preceded monogamy in human evolution.