Sunday, 17 May 2015

Why female lemurs are big bullies

May 15, 2015

Eric Hopton for – Your Universe Online

Males in some species of lemurs get a tough time. Their girls get to the food first and will snatch the fruit from a male’s hand and sometimes even bite them. The males just have to wait for the leftovers.

A recent study by the Duke University Lemur Center found that a good helping of testosterone apparently helps lemur females rule the roost. These distant primate cousins of ours reverse the animal kingdom’s normal gender roles in which males rule.

“If a male lemur is enjoying a patch of sunlight, for example, a female is likely to push him aside and take his spot,” said Joseph Petty, most recently a doctoral student at Duke.

The guys can’t even be sure of a good night’s sleep as the females are fond of pushing the boys out of the best sleeping spots. These fellas get a hard ride all around.

All this female dominance may be due to their increased sensitivity to male hormones, right down to the females’ tendency to mark their territories with distinctive scents, just like the males of most other species.

For once, size doesn’t matter
Female dominance can’t be attributed to physical superiority as the female lemurs are no larger than males, and they have no antlers, horns, or bigger fangs to give them the physical edge.

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