Traditionally it is believed that in the animal world males are bigger, stronger, and therefore those that dominate the herds. The reality is that in many species it is the females that play the role of leader, relegating the male to a secondary role.
On a day where women are the protagonists, it is important to highlight that the animal kingdom offers us extraordinary examples of matriarchal societies.
The family structure of the killer whales revolves around the females of the group. The matriarch or matriarchs are the ones who lead and they’re young remain for decades with them, forming very stable family structures.
Furthermore, these animals are one of the few species that can spend their entire lives with their mothers. Even matriarchs come to care for their own grandchildren, making them one of the few animals to reach menopause.
This mammal, which inhabits the Kalahari Desert region and the plains of southern Africa, is also governed by a matriarchal system.
They meet in herds of approximately 50 individuals and it is the females that lead the way for these animal nomads. In the meerkat kingdom, females dominate and occupy all the important functions within their colonies: there is an alpha female, a lookout, those in charge of caring for the young, among many other tasks.
Elephants are the largest land animals, and also one of the best examples of a matriarchal society.
Often in the wild, the hierarchy of animals is established by their strength but elephants prefer to age and wisdom. Herds are usually commanded by the older female. And despite the fact that the matriarch is usually bigger in size than the others, what really matters to hold this position is her experience. The matriarch is the one who knows best how to find water and defend the young. This experienced female gets to lead from 8 to 100 elephants.
This fish, which lives in deep waters, stands out for having a luminescent lure on its head that it uses to attract its prey.
When scientists discovered this species, they realized that all of its specimens were female and that almost all of them had a parasite that inhabited their reproductive parts. After several studies, it was discovered that these “parasites” were actually the males of the species.
These just born males must quickly find a female, as they are unable to live independently and fuse with her. When the female is ready to fertilize, the male provides his male cells for fertilization.
This primate that lives on the island of Madagascar has an interesting social structure. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between males and females. They have the same physical characteristics and are the same size. They live in groups of about 20 specimens and establish matriarchal societies, in which the females dominate the males socially. It is they, therefore, who feed first and who has priority in grooming. They exercise this domain through attacks, persecutions, bites, etc.
According to a study published in Science Daily, the female gender is dominant even when outnumbered. Although there are more males than females who continue to lead the pack.
Within hyena herds, which can be made up of groups of up to 60 individuals, size is what matters. They command the herd because they are significantly larger and more aggressive than males.
Despite their fame as butchers, hyenas make excellent group hunters. When they kill their prey, the dominant females feed first. The males eat what the females leave them and if it is not enough they look for some abandoned carcass in the savanna.
Kay Holecamp, an American biologist, studied the behavior of spotted hyenas for more than 20 years. In her investigations, she determined that these animals are characterized by a strict and complicated order of hierarchy within the same group, where each of them has a different rank.
This East African mammal is governed by a matriarchal mandate of a single alpha female. The queen is the only breeding female in the colony, preventing all other females from reproducing through her aggressive dominance and application of social roles, which often involves physically pushing other members of the colony.
The picofino phalarope ( Phalaropus lobatus ) is, without a doubt, a somewhat atypical bird, since to its habits as a swimmer it is necessary to add its inverse sexual dimorphism, according to which the females present a showier plumage and are larger than their companions.
To mate, the females are the ones that chase the desired males. Fighting with rival females to gain access to the desired mates. Once the eggs are laid, the males are in charge of incubating them, who also have the task of raising the chickens over the 20 days that it may take to develop. Also, females mate with multiple males during one season.
Bonobos considered the closest living ‘relatives’ to man, is known for the dominant role of females in groups. Somewhat uncommon in the world of mammals, despite the fact that males are stronger and larger.
Faced with the law of the strongest, which usually governs chimpanzees, the leaders of bonobos are usually very conciliatory. There are various theories of how they have formed such stable groups since. In fact, females are more aggressive and irritable than males.
According to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the social dominance of female bonobos over males is not related to their ability to associate with each other, as previously thought, but rather to the use of sex as a pacifying tool, which serves as a social union, thus reducing their stress levels.
And finally, we go to the world of insects. Ants have matriarchal societies very similar to those of bees. With a queen and thousands of workers, who keep the anthill always active. The few males that exist fulfill reproductive functions, and sometimes not even that. In fact, there is a species of Amazon ants (Mycocepurus smithii) composed only of females.