8 Boss Ladies of the Animal Kingdom

Many species of animals have female centric societies. Not only just mating, but they maintain peace and social structure with their dominance. Here are 8 animal species with dominant females.

You probably know of the preying mantis female eating the male's head after mating. You definitely know that the Queen Bee is the ruler of her colony. However, there are many animal species and societies other than these stereotypes, where female hierarchy and matriarchal societies are extremely common, and even used as evolutionary strategies. Some of them just involve the female being dominant during reproduction, but some of them involve lifelong "servitude" to the dominant female. Here are 8 animals where the females rule the clan. 

1. Clownfish 

Unfortunately, Nemo's mom and dad being the cute couple they were before she tragically died, is not scientifically accurate. Clownfish have a strict hierarchal social structure with the largest, most aggressive female acting as the highest authority. Every male serves this female throughout her reign, and the one that pleases her the most gets to mate with her. Pleasing her can involve bringing her food, finding her a home, maintaining the housekeeping duties of her home, and solving any difficulties she may encounter - and all the males in the group will try their best to perform all these duties. The one who does it the best gets to be the father of her eggs. 

2. Naked Mole Rats

Yes, these strange-looking mammals have a female-centric eusocial hierarchy that is similar to bees, ants, and termites. Their colony is run by a queen who is the only reproductive female and holds all the breeding rights, with two or three reproductive males who mate with her. She is often the largest and most dominant individual in the group. Fun fact: Naked mole rats live unusually long for rodents; they can be fit and fine for over 30 years!

3. Topi Antelopes

Female topi antelopes have a very aggressive sex drive, and during mating season, they pursue the males instead of the other way around. They fight and even break apart mating couples to reproduce with their desired partners! If there is a male in the group that all the females desire, the most dominant female gets to mate first, following by the second-most dominant and so on. Often, the males collapse from exhaustion during mating season, which is why the females fight so much to get to mate with them first!

4. Orcas

Female killer whales are the matriarchs of their pods, and killer whales take their group dynamics very seriously. The sons, most often, never leave their mothers or stay with them for a very long time. Female orcas typically punish and discipline younger members of the group in case they commit an error or do something undesirable. They do this by smacking their tails hard in the water to throw the other whale around or even smacking them directly with their tails.

5. Spotted Hyenas

Spotted hyenas females, unlike other species of hyenas, have a large amount of natural testosterone and can be bigger and more dominant than the males. They even have an elongated clitoris which has been termed a pseudo-penis because when erect it looks indistinguishable from a male hyena's penis. Female hyenas also mount and attempt to mate with male hyenas as a male would do, just to show dominance in the group!

6. Lemurs

So yes, Madagascar was also wrong about King Julian. Ring-tailed lemurs are often more involved in the hierarchy and peace-keeping of the colony than the males. They control the fights and disagreements. They are also better at one-on-one fights than males, so the female will usually win most disagreements. 

7. Bonobos

Female bonobos are known bisexuals who are very good at maintaining peace in their groups. A very interesting fact about them is that when tensions rise between individuals, they are known to diffuse it by sexual contact with the fighting individual, be it male or female. This has led researchers to believe that they resolve conflict with affection rather than aggression. However, in a match of aggression in certain cases female bonobos have been known to severely overpower the males.

8. Lions

Male lions are dominant in terms of reproductive rights and occasional defence, but that's also where their power within the pack ends. The females control the social structure and hunting of the pack. They are the first to eat, with the others only getting their leftovers. Females also maintain the fitness of the pack by kicking out individuals who are not performing up to the mark anymore. The lion being the 'King of the Jungle' is probably a misnomer at this point. 

Thus we see that animals we probably assumed had male-dominant hierarchies are in fact quite the opposite. In the animal kingdom, having the ability to give birth requires a large amount of energy and resources, which is why dominance has evolved out of necessity in a lot of these species. It may seem brutal in some cases, however, it is very interesting to see the gender differentiation when it comes to social structure in various species. It's important to note that the term "Alpha" is not synonymous to male and never has been.

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Chetan Verma

Chetan Verma 23 Sep 2021

You wann check it again. Though Lionessess are the one who do hunting most of the time( lion indulges only when the prey is too big to be handled by them alone) it's always the lion who eat first and also he is the one who kicks out the young lions when they get big enough. A lion has total dominance over a pride without any if and but and they demonstrates it from first day of becoming the leader by killing the the cubs of previous leader and impregnation of females to start his lineage.


M 06 Oct 2023

Fragile male is angry. When a lioness hunts, the male guards the territory. Sounds like a role reversal, doesn't it? Yet according to another source, the lionesses do some guarding as well. Maybe that's why you're mad. But you might be right about the food part. I think you may be right about the males killing the cubs and doing the violence (reflects in humans too when you look at violent crime statistics).
However, lionesses are still the ones essentially "running" the pride. And also, like many species, the males are the "prettier" ones and try to attract the females.

"Meanwhile, the sisterhood of the pride continues more or less unhindered by which males happen to be around at any moment. And, in fact, the females have agency in deciding which males they’re interested in having around. “If it wasn’t for the females, there would be no reason for the males to have manes. Females prefer the male who is the most conspicuous and has the clear characteristics they can rely on to ensure their babies are going to survive and be healthy,” he says"

This isn't the Lion King, pal. Do you also believe in alpha male wolf packs? lol