In 2006, anthropologist Joan Silk from the University of California in Los Angeles found that the infants of female baboons with social ties to unrelated females survived longer than the less social baboons. Now, a new study by Silk and colleagues Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth from the University of Pennsylvania shows that female baboons who had the longest and most stable relationships with other baboons lived significantly longer than those with unpredictable social ties. The researchers divided their findings into three categories: the least sociable group lived from seven to eighteen years, the middle group from nine to twenty-five, and the most sociable from ten years on. The researchers believe these findings show that social bonding enhances reproductive success. They suggest that “the human motivation to form close and enduring bonds has a long evolutionary history,” and hypothesize that friendship helps defer the effects of stress while enhancing physiological preservation. Elissa Cameron, a zoologist at the University of Pretoria, believes the study and other recent findings “provide us with huge insights into the evolutionary significance of human friendship and of social bonds.”
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