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Baboon bosses get stressed for success

Alpha males incur a surprising level of strain

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1:52pm, July 14, 2011

Baboon males fight ferociously for power, only to have that power bite back.

Top-ranking males generate surprisingly high levels of stress hormones, a sign that these primates pay a cost to be the boss, report evolutionary biologist Laurence Gesquiere of Princeton University and her colleagues in the July 15 Science.

Stress-hormone levels in alpha males are on par with those of low-ranking males scuffling to survive, the study showed. Baboon bosses are burdened by having to fight off rivals and guard fertile mates from others’ advances, the scientists propose. Meanwhile, indignities such as not getting enough to eat and end

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