But bonobos, those notoriously frisky, ardently social great apes of the Congo, prefer to share with a stranger before sharing with an animal they know. In fact, a bonobo will invite a stranger to share a snack while leaving an acquaintance watching helplessly from behind a barrier. "It seems kind of crazy to us, but bonobos prefer to share with strangers," said Brian Hare, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. "They're trying to extend their social network."Trying to extend their social network? What the fuck does that mean? And how do you know what the bonobos are thinking? If you want to make sense, go with the well-known human equivalent. Many cultures practice intense hospitality toward strangers, and their reasons are well understood because humans can explain their motivations with words. Arabs, Slavs, and others are hospitable to strangers for two main reasons: (1) A stranger eating at your table can be watched. A stranger lurking outside your house is dangerous. (2) A stranger who has eaten at your table is slightly indebted to you, thus less likely to harm you. These motivations don't always work, but they must have worked well enough and often enough to establish the practice of hospitality.
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