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Jul 16, 2013 10:02 AM EDT

Attractive Bonobo Females Are More Likely To Win Conflicts against Males, Study

Attractive female bonobos are more likely to score a verbal win when they are highly fecund, meaning during their fertile time, according to a recent study conducted by researchers of the LuiKotale bonobo project from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

The study also said that apart from their charismatic looks, female bonobos' enthusiasm to defend their offspring was considered as another significant factor in determining the outcome of intersexual conflicts. Researchers explain that whenever females protect their young against male violence, either alone or in groups, males are more likely to submit to females.

"In those situations, males also aggress females less often, which is different from chimpanzees, our other closest living relatives," said Dr. Martin Surbeck, first author of the publication.

This study shows that a shifting dominance relationship between the sexes has been observed in bonobos that depends on both female sexuality and male mating strategies.

Although intersexual dominance relations in bonobos have never been thoroughly studied in the wild, researchers had some idea on how female bonobos attained their dominance. Some of them claim that females form coalitions to repress male bonobos' violent behavior, while others predict that females select non-aggressive males as their partners.

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