I know why I pee on myself (It usually involves wind or alcohol...or both) but I've always wondered why monkeys do it as well. Ok, I lie, I had no idea that monkeys (yeah yeah, I know it's a chimp but monkey is a more fun word) peed on themselves... well, besides this one.
According to News @ Nature, it's all about trying to get laid:
Miller and her team noticed a link between urine washing and attention-seeking.
Alpha males, for example, doubled their urine washing rates when being solicited by females. The researchers think this might be how males encourage females to continue paying attention once they've started.
And in 87% of fights or aggressive incidents, the loser of the battle washed in urine. The team suspects that this is also an attention-seeking behaviour--in this case seeking sympathy. But more research is needed to be sure.
Didn't anyone ever teach you to pee downwind?
I think the only thing that would make this news even better would be if it was uncovered thanks to a $1 billion grant from the federal government. No matter, I will sleep better tonight thanks to this knowledge. ;)
Attention Seeking? I'm thinking it has to do more with a type of advertisement. Which I guess is the same basic idea, but in this case the chimp is trying to have more females be able to smell him and the chemicals that are being secreted through his urine. Like a human male putting on cologne in order to smell better, in attempt to appear more appealing, the chimp is trying to produce a smell that indicates he is a suitable mate. Trying to show that he is healthy, that is if chimps have the ability to detect different levels of chemicals in the urine that would indicate such things, like a dog could.
An equally interesting study would be what, exactly, the survival benefit is for loss of waste-disposal control in highly stressful situations.