The Unexpected Benefits of Being a Friendly Baboon2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
A recent study conducted in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya has discovered something quite spectacular. Scientists observed a pool of 542 baboons over 35 years, and found that when male baboons befriended female baboons, they would form such tight, lifelong bonds that these friendships seemed to make their lives longer!
So, who are these baboons anyway? Well, baboons are a primate species that have close relationships with humans. In fact, they bear a 94% genetic similarity to humans! They are so closely related to us that scientists have found that the vowel sounds that they use to communicate are not all that different from the vowels that are fundamental to human speech.
Could this mean that human friendships produce similar effects?
Yes, several studies have shown that meaningful friendships decrease the chance of early death among humans. While the researchers are certain of the impact that meaningful friendship has on baboons, they don’t really know why this is happening.
With humans, scientists assume that friendship reduces stress and makes life’s challenges easier to cope with, but baboons rarely face human hassles. Their societies do not require them to earn money, get jobs, or do their homework every day. Scientists have yet to decipher the meaning of the fascinating outcome of their study.
So, go out (after the pandemic), get off your devices, and share your experiences with your friends. For now, go to your families and help them out at home, so that you can turn their chores into medicine!
Questions to think about:
What is stress? How do we reduce it?
How do Baboons live?
How do Baboons talk to each other?
Adapted from The Swaddle, Livescience and Harvard Health Journal.