Forget 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' Male Chimpanzees Use Aggression, Dominance Over Females. Here's Why


Erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" is notable for its graphic narrative of sexual practices such as dominance, submission, bondage and more done by human characters of the novel. The titillating tale, soon be on the silver screen, might have a counterpart in the world of primates as recent study reveals that male chimpanzees also use aggression and dominance over females for mating.

Violent male chimpanzees sometimes attack female chimpanzees, which can leave severe wounds. Researchers at the Arizona State University and Duke University suggest that male chimpanzees who are consistently violent over their females are likely to father more offspring when compared to less violent males.

Joseph Feldblum of the Duke University, who is also the lead author of the study, revealed that they found such a behavior in chimpanzees from a long-term study of the animals in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Feldblum suggest that even though humans and chimpanzees are very close relatives but their mating and sexual behaviors are very different.

"Sexual coercion works for chimpanzees because females mate promiscuously with most of the males in their group during each cycle, leaving males with an incentive to try to constrain female choice," says Feldblum. "But the system that favors male coercion in chimpanzees is less prevalent in humans."

The researchers suggest that the aggressive behavior of the make chimpanzees included slapping, striking or biting. The study also found that males and their female victims did not involve in mating immediately after or during the attacks.

The researchers suggest that they observed wild chimpanzees for around five decades to understand the relation between mating success and aggression. Male chimpanzees who directed violent behavior to females in the group mated more often than less violent counterparts. The study also found that female chimpanzees at their peak fertility time preferred mating with males who attacked them most.

The study also observed short-term and long-tern aggression behavior of the chimpanzees. The researchers found that short-term aggression when females are more sexually receptive elevated a male's opportunity of copulation. However, short-term aggression did not result in paternity.

Male chimpanzees at a high-rank in the group usually showed long-term aggression towards the females even when they were not sexually receptive. Researchers found that long-term aggression resulted in conception.

The finding of the latest study reaffirms the "sexual coercion hypothesis."

The study has been published in the journal Current Biology. 

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