Healthy Living

Why Friendship Is One Of Our Most Basic Needs

So, “Monkey Facebook” is a thing.
02/24/2016 12:01pm ET

Humans aren't the only ones who have best buds. Monkeys, horses, dolphins and a bunch of other animals benefit from forming strong, platonic relationships because friendships and social bonds actually serve as a survival mechanism.

For the sixth episode of Next Level Living, a 10-part HuffPost Originals video series on the science behind our everyday habits, we asked experts why we have BFFs: What's the point of them, and how are they good for us?

In the most basic sense, friends serve as our allies. They stick up for and protect us and, if all goes well, they won't kill us for the last piece of wild boar meat cheese doodle.

"It's really part of our biological heritage to want the kind of friends that we can know we can count on," says Dr. Robert Seyfarth, a primatologist at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the past four decades, Seyfarth and wife have studied how friendships function in the monkey world, noting that even the common role of "wingman" carries over to non-humankind.

Our friendships don't just help ensure the propagation of the species in this way, but they boost our health in the day-to-day: Stress relief, optimism and even strengthening our immune systems are just a few of the reasons we have to be grateful for our close pals.

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Unlikely Animal Friendships