Meerkats have a real hunger to succeed. In the race to the top of the breeding group they pig out to boost their own growth in response to a rival gaining weight.
Up and comers in both sexes can wait for years for the top spot to free up – and when the time comes, it’s usually the fattest meerkat that wins.
“It’s an intense selection to get to the breeding position,” says Tim Clutton-Brock at the University of Cambridge.
Relatively few females will get the chance to breed, and the dominant female even kills off any rival offspring until she has had her litter.
“Those that become dominant and keep their rivals down hit the reproductive jackpot,” says Alex Thornton at the University of Exeter, UK.