Chimps pare down their social circle in later years

There is more that comes with older age than greying hair and wrinkled skin. When humans reach their later years, they favour more established friends and their social circle is pared down. Now, for what appears to be the first time, scientists have seen the same behaviour in another species. More than two decades of observations of chimpanzees reveal that older males choose to hang out with their long-term friends at the expense of other relationships. “What we’ve shown is that chimpanzees and humans share the same pattern of social ageing,” said Zarin Machanda, a primatologist at Tufts University in Massachusetts. “We know that as humans age, their social networks shrink but their social bonds grow stronger, and we see the same thing here in chimpanzees.”