Nature's Leading Ladies

Nature & Wildlife 52' 2024 4K

Only very few mammals have a female as their leader. How do those female bosses manage to prevail over the otherwise dominant males? Biologists and behavioral researchers around the globe are on the quest to answer these questions. Maybe us humans can learn something from their findings.

Matriarchies, as in elephants, are a prime example of female leadership in the animal kingdom. However, elephant herds lack adult males. Elephant cows do not need to, and could not, dominate adult bulls. But there are animal societies in which females are the dominant sex, such as in spotted hyenas or lemurs. Here, the females are masculinized due to increased testosterone levels, giving them more strength and aggression to dominate their males. The most extreme example of female dominance is the Damaraland mole-rat, an underground-living mammal related to the naked mole-rat. They are unique among mammals since they live in a colony, divide labor and are led by a queen – similar to social insects.


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