Testosterone. It’s often lauded as the hormone that makes males bigger, bolder, stronger. Now a pair of Duke University studies has identified one group of animals, the meerkats of the southern tip of Africa, in which females can produce even more testosterone than males. Female meerkats with naturally high levels of testosterone-related hormones are more likely to be leaders, but they also pay a price for being macho, the studies show. In meerkats, it’s the ladies who do most of the growling, biting and chasing. The top-ranking meerkat queens are the biggest bullies, shoving, charging and swiping food from the females beneath them.
The findings are consistent with an idea biologists first proposed in 1992, which posits that testosterone makes males showier and more aggressive, but also more prone to infection.