Bullying gets you laid. In the human world that just sounds wrong. Chimpanzees, however, are not human. Chimpanzees have a simpler world.
According to a recent study published in the US journal Current Biology, scientists from Arizona State have concluded that violence from male chimpanzees towards female chimpanzees serves as a type of sexual coercion. Additionally, sustained violence encourages female chimpanzees to seek out the violent males as preferred mating partners throughout their period of peak fertility.
Assistant professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and Research affiliate with the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, Ian Gilby, said: “This signifies that males, particularly those of high rank, effectively use a technique of long-term sexual bullying.”
Science has long known of male bullying towards female chimpanzees. It was not, however, known if the bullying resulted in reproductive success. Over a 17-year period, DNA testing of 31 infants born throughout the research verifies that males who bully females generally have more offspring. This is not the case with any other mammals.
The investigative team’s research reveals that a male chimpanzee’s aggression during a female chimpanzee’s “sexually receptive periods” resulted in more frequent mating but not a greater success of paternity. However, high-ranking male chimpanzees that demonstrated aggression toward females when those females were not “sexually receptive” were given more offspring. This might very well be the first “genetic evidence of sexual coercion as an adaptive strategy in any social mammal.”
The researchers are well aware that some human males out there might twist these test results to mean men have carte blanche to mistreat women, Gilby is quick to caution that our similarities in DNA does not mean human beings and chimpanzees are not very different species.
Gilby warned: “We should take care not to jump to conclusions. Chimps are among our nearest living relatives, but seven million years of evolution separate us, and our mating systems are not the same. Nonetheless, realizing the adaptive worth of male-female aggression in chimps might certainly allow us to know, and hopefully prevent, similar behavior among humans.”
Male Chimpanzees: Bullying Means More Mating