On the trail of love's monkeys

Valentine's Day is the day of love. Animal lovers have known for a long time that this is not only reserved for humans. But why is there love at all? Scientists have studied the social behavior of night monkeys and have come a little closer to the origin of love. Night monkeys are loyal partners - sometimes for a lifetime - Image: (CC) Flickr: HarmonyonPlanetEarth

On Valentine's Day we don't just make our loved ones happy on two legs. Valentine's Day gifts for dogs, cats, etc. are a matter of course for many. But why do we actually love? The science magazine "National Geographic" reports on studies by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA, who used night monkeys to search for the evolutionary origin of love. Night monkeys are a species of monkey that is native to Central and South America. The cute climbing maxes are characterized by the fact that they are nocturnal - and they live monogamous.

Night monkeys: Love is also monkey business

Just five percent of all mammals live monogamous and, like most people, bind themselves to a specific partner. "Call it love, friendship, or marriage - there is something in our biological being that leads to these long-lasting and emotional relationships between individuals and is widespread in human society," said anthropologist Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, director of the study "National Geographic".

Observations in the night monkeys have now shown that such close ties can be of great advantage: for two decades, the researchers observed the cute climbing experts and found that night monkeys in intact relationships gave birth to 25 more babies than monkeys, whose relationship broke up and who found a new partner had to search. The researchers have not yet found out why. Fernandez-Duque, however, suspects that the secret lies in the emotional component that has evolved into what is called love.

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Offspring only with love and trust

Young monkeys are delayed by around a year when males and females have to get to know each other again. Probably only when the monkey woman and the monkey man have got to know each other extensively and trust each other can the offspring be planned. From these initially only neurochemical reactions in the brain, the reflected feeling of human love could have arisen in the course of evolution. A feeling that people around the world celebrate differently - such as Valentine's Day.

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