It’s tough at the top, ask an alpha baboon

Those wielding power and influence are more likely to lead a “stressful” life, according to new research on baboons.

Those wielding power and influence are more likely to lead a “stressful” life, according to new research on baboons.



Researchers at Princeton University discovered that alpha males among the wild yellow baboons of Kenya’s Amboseli Basin have higher levels of glucocorticoid, a stress hormone, as well as testosterone.



“We found that alpha male baboons exhibit much higher stress hormone levels than beta (second-ranking) males, indicating that being at the very top of a social hierarchy may be more costly than previously thought,” lead author Laurence Gesquiere told Metro. The study is based on the examination of fecal samples from 125 adult baboons over nine years.



The baboons’ high stress levels are most likely due to the energy they are forced to exert just to maintain their social position, Gesquiere added, with alpha males being more prone to fighting and protecting their mate, as opposed to beta males.

 
 
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