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... Females decide whether males sink or swim Females decide whether males sink or swim

2 February 2008

An animal study has revealed that aggression is not always the best way of getting ahead.

In fact, the popular adage about the love of a good woman seems to have at least a partial basis in truth.

The research, which was published yesterday in in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, focuses on an unusual species of African fish.

The scientists found that changes in male social status were regulated by the dominant females of the school - bigger females acted as "gatekeepers", so that males could only move up the social ladder with their support.

Senior author Sigal Balshine commented: "Most folks would have thought that how aggressive you are, how big and powerful you are or how much testosterone you have might be important in understanding status change and dominance rankings.

"Our study combined several approaches to show that simply isn't the case - instead, the female and the social landscape are key."

The study also found that males, upon gaining a more dominant role, instantly became more aggressive.