9 species where females reign supreme


By Dr. Becker

In the animal kingdom, there are many species in which females reign supreme. This may seem unusual since males are typically seen as protectors, but females often have unique advantages or skills that make them particularly adept at protecting the survival of their species.1

9 matriarchal species in the animal kingdom

1. Bees

The queen is the ruler of the bee hive. It is larger than its workers and lives one to two years, compared to six or seven weeks for workers. The queen’s specialty is reproduction, which ensures the survival of the hive. According to Discovery News:2

Drones usually die during mating or are expelled from the hive before winter begins.

2. Killer whales

Orcas, or killer whales, live in a matriarchal society and their offspring stay with their mother for the rest of their lives, even after they have their own offspring. A pod of killer whales will be made up of several family units, called matrilines, which tend to travel together.

Killer whales are very protective of their young, who are cared for not only by their mother but also by other adolescent females in the group.

3. Elephants

Elephants also live in a complex matriarchal society, in which the oldest and often largest female is the matriarch of the entire herd; she can lead eight to 100 elephants.

4. Bonobos

Bonobos, a type of great ape formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee, also lives in groups led by females. Interestingly, they are also considered among the most peaceful primates on the planet and resolve conflicts through sex.

5. Spotted hyenas

Female spotted hyenas are larger and more aggressive than males, and it is the females who dominate their social groups (each of which can have up to 60 members). The female hyena’s genitals even resemble male genitals, making it difficult to differentiate between the sexes.

6. Lions

the Lions live in large groups called prides, similar to wolves (but not most other cat species). A pride consists of several related females and their dependent offspring as well as two or three unrelated males. A typical pride has around 15 members, although some prides of up to 40 members have been observed.

Female lions hunt (usually in groups) while male lions stay at home and watch over the pride. However, the males are the first to eat when the female lions return with their prey.

7. Mole Rats

Mole rat colonies, which can number 20 to 300 members, are led by a dominant female or “mole rat queen.” The queen chooses the largest, hardiest males to mate with several times a year and can give birth to up to seven young every two months.

8. Meerkats

Meerkats live in underground burrows in groups of two or three families, called mobs. Each group is led by a dominant female, who leads the group in its foraging trips, finding new burrows, and settling disputes with other groups of meerkats.

9. Ants

Similar to bees, ants live in colonies led by a single queen, who focuses on mating and reproduction to build the colony while the others take care of the work. An interesting fact from Discovery News:3

“If population size is a measure of success, then ants are the most successful creatures on the planet. If all the ants in the world gathered into one large mass, they would weigh more than the combined weight of the entire human population on Earth.


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