What separates man from the animals? Our cunning? Our pants (when we wear them)? Our inclination to exchange goods and services for sexual intercourse? If you guessed that last one, you’d be wrong (and also not so great at reading headlines, just like an animal).
In fact, there are plenty of animal species out there willing to turn a few tricks for a little extra food or a quality grooming sesh or even a shiny pebble. Here are some animals who are out there hustling the only way they know how.
1. Bonobo chimpanzees
You’re probably familiar with regular chimpanzees that do funny things like smoke cigarettes and wash cats in the sink, but there’s another species called “bonobo chimpanzees,” and no, they weren’t named after the brightly colored pants company. Bonobo chimps are like the blissed out hippy cousins of regular chimps and they’re VERY sexually liberated. They use sex to resolve conflicts, to bond, and even just to say hello. If they had keys they would definitely have key parties. With all that jungle love going on, you’d think they wouldn’t have to pay for it, but no. Male bonobos frequently trade fruit for the chance to smash nasties with a willing female. Yes that’s a banana in his pocket AND he’s happy to see you!
Male scorpionflies don’t have jobs or wallets or money, but they do have great, big salivary glands. It’s a good thing too, because female scorpionflies go absolutely bonkers for a dude with a swollen pair of glands. To get female scorpion flies in the sack, males have to prove their worth and put those glands to work hawking up a big glob of spit. Think of it like a gross, drippy engagement ring! (I assume saving up three months saliva is the scorpionfly rule of thumb for when you propose). Scrubs who can’t scrape together enough saliva to form a proper loogie have to use dead insects instead. In fact, some of the deadbeats will re-use the same nasty dried out bug, carrying it from female to female like the scorpionfly equivalent of a thirsty fuckboy.
3. Great grey shrikes
Great grey shrikes are small birds of prey found throughout North America and Europe, and just like humans found throughout North America and Europe, they pay for sex. When a male shrike wants to get his cloaca wet, he’s gotta go hunting first. That’s because female shrikes won’t give it up unless they get an adorable fuzzy mammal’s corpse impaled on a tree branch in front of them. Sort of like that time you won a teddy bear for your girl at the state fair. Females judge the size of the male’s, uh, gift and get busy with whoever has the biggest.
Adelie penguins build their nests out of pebbles (and moss, because penguin eggs are kinda fragile). It takes a while for the penguins to gather pebbles (you can only carry so many in your beak and those flippers are useless), so a nice stash is can be pretty valuable. Another thing that’s valuable to male penguins is sex with a female penguin. I don’t think you need a degree in economics or animal behavior to figure out what that leads to: prostitution for pebbles. Researchers have observed female penguins slinging their goodies all around penguin town just to score a few pebbles for their nests. It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s theirs. Some females even skip out on their johns without doing the deed. So much for getting your rocks off!
5. Capuchin monkeys
You may recognize capuchin monkeys as “organ grinder” monkeys, but you probably didn’t realize they grind their organs together for cash. Alright fine, it’s not really cash, but it is similar. Researchers taught a group of capuchin monkeys to use small metal discs as a kind of currency, and because money is the root of all evil one of these fuzzy hornballs was spotted trading their “coins” for hot monkey love. It seems like there’s almost nothing science can’t do (other than cure cancer).