Bank voles' secret to social dominance lies in their penis size.
The study, conducted by Dr Jean-Francois Lemaitre from the University of Liverpool with colleagues in France and Switzerland, found that dominant males had wider penis bones, also called baculum.
Bank voles live for a maximum of 18 months and females give birth to four or five litters per year.
"This species is particularly interesting for study... because females mate with several males during a single reproductive bout," the BBC quoted Dr Lemaitre as saying.
Researchers suggest that this competition may have driven evolutionary adaptations in genital anatomy to improve males' chances of reproduction.
"Our main result is that dominant males have larger, but not longer, baculum than subordinate males," said Dr Lemaitre.
He theorised that as female bank voles require physical stimulation to release eggs, wider baculum bones may achieve this more often, leading to greater reproductive success.
"Our study is a first step in the understanding of the relationships between genital [structure] and reproductive success in mammals," Dr Lemaitre added.
The study has been published in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. (ANI)
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|Publication:||Asian News International|
|Date:||Oct 3, 2011|
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