Friday, July 15, 2011

Alpha males get the ladies, extra helping of stress

If you’re a baboon, being in charge gives you a lot of advantages: you have better access to food, you get more action from the ladies, and your kids tend to grow faster and live longer. Low-rankers, meanwhile, must expend more time and energy to get food and mating opportunities. It makes sense to assume that the baboons at the bottom of their hierarchy might experience more stress than their high-ranking relatives.

But life at the top of a baboon troop isn’t all fun and games, since the alpha male must constantly struggle to maintain his social position. A new study in Science shows that alpha males suffer from much more stress than the second highest-ranking baboon, and tend to exhibit the same amount of stress hormones as baboons much lower in the hierarchy.

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