in the wild whether fending off an invader or competing against one of their own animals must be able to fight survival of the fittest often comes down to the triumph of the most aggressive.
Others inherited and the rest respected because conflict ultimately benefits the species one of the key strategies to survive the world.
if you want to visit your closest relatives you'll find them here in the woodlands rainforests and grasslands of central africa chimpanzees.
We share about 99 of our genetic blueprint and also much of our behavior for better or worse in tanzania's gombe stream national park some of the more aggressive tendencies play out.
Chimp communities can shift and change but a single male is always chief chimp in charge and now an ambitious subordinate dares to challenge him the alpha chimp will have to remind him whose boss.
Champ and challenger face off through a series of escalating threats that's usually enough to intimidate the opponent but not this time when the challenger refuses to back down the alpha must resort to the most extreme and risky strategy direct combat.
chimps are tough if a male chimp were human size he'd be twice as strong as us but brute strength comes at the cost of finer control meaning a chimpanzee might kill when he only meant to harm today it doesn't come to that.
The alpha keeps his rank and the challenger lives to fight another day aggression doesn't just keep chimps in line it's also the glue that enables chimps to perform a rare primate behavior group hunting the chimps discover a tribe of columbus.
Monkeys though chimps mainly eat fruit in some areas their craving for columbus have driven the monkeys almost to extinction the alpha chimp launches the attack chasing the smaller faster monkeys through the campaign.
Each member of the chimpanzee troop knows his role in the hunt strategically cornering the prey the alpha throws the columns to its death the hunters share the kill each waiting his turn to eat.
these strict rules strictly enforced hold the chimp society together for everyone's benefit when everyone knows how he's expected to behave daily life runs a little more smoothly and that's not just true for chimps.
south of the steamy rainforest and into the desolate lands one of africa's most charming desert dwellers reveals a more serious side the meerkat beloved for their distinctive upright stance meerkats keep a constant lookout.
For danger but it's not just predators they're looking for meerkats depend on each other to eke out a living in their harsh habitat their clans up to 50 members strong are.
Governed by threat aggression and submission at the top of the chain of command stands a single dominant female the matriarch in the semi-arid savannah of botswana's karahari desert the meerkat matriarch exerts her.
Authority most of the clan's pups are hers but they're raised by the other females if a lower female gets pregnant she or her pups could be killed in fact meerkats are among the world's.
Most murderous mammals the matriarch joins the hunt with the rest of the adults digging for insects and small animals so they can excavate their body's weight worth of sand in just a few seconds.
But today they've come up empty until a tasty scorpion wanders by meerkats are immune to their venom a subordinate female makes the catch.
But the matriarch calls dibs snatching the kill for herself squabbles like that are all in a day's work for meerkats no one messes with mama but the other females fight for rank beneath foreign a matriarch is usually larger and.
Stronger than the females she rules and she keeps subordinates in place by scolding scratching and biting the occasional hip slam reminds potential rivals who's the boss but when they detect an outside threat internal disputes get put on hold a mole snake slithers too close to the.
Meerkats burrow and the clan rallies to defend its home they mob the snake raising their tails and arching their backs to look larger and scarier the snake's not buying it.
Darting back into their burrow they mount a last line of defense at the entrance the snake moves on but the meerkats keep their guard up.
uh the aggressive meerkat matriarch runs a tight ship but it's nothing compared to the rigid rules of her african neighbors the spotted hyena.
The largest and most gregarious of hyena species spotted hyenas live in clans of up to 130. despite that instead of being cooperative band members openly compete.
Ah in kenya's masai mara national reserve a spotted hyena clan goes about its business as nightfalls of the masaimara the clan's about to welcome some new members.
as the dominant female gives birth to two pups both are daughters both born to rule except the matriarch can have only one heir and almost from the moment of birth.
One daughter proves she's fit for the role bullying her smaller sister her ferocity wins the dominant pup better access to her mother's nipple so she'll grow stronger than her sister but little sister still has status.
So long as their mother remains the alpha they automatically outrank all other clan members even adults while the matriarch and her pups enjoy their status the subordinate females in the clan try to win status of their own they threaten and tangle with each other to gain an earlier chance to eat after.
The alphas are done huh as we're not hyenas it's tough to tell a male from a female owing to the females pseudo-penis why they have it is anyone's guess.
But it's thought to have something to do with male hormones since larger more aggressive females have the advantage in the clan a lone male enters the clan's territory his flattened ears and tucked tail revealing his fear if the clan accepts him his life will be.
A little easier but for now he cautiously remains on the periphery scavenging the group's scraps in hyena society outside males rank the lowest of the low he beats a life of solitary scavenging and being potential prey.
He makes his cautious approach that the clan wants nothing to do with him they drive him away in no uncertain terms even though leaving his birth clan lowers his rank he probably did it to increase his chances of mating with an.
Outside clan maybe it'll pay off a world away from the african savannah in the boreal forests of north america roam the elk one of the largest members of the deer family on this continent elk are one of the.
Largest animals period living peacefully for most of their time in single sex gangs these mighty animals come together to breed once a year and then things aren't so peaceful in yellowstone national park the elk breeding season known as the rut.
Is about to begin in summertime the high mountain grazing grounds provide elk with plenty to eat and once they're well fed the bulls and cows will come together to satisfy a different appetite it all seems quiet now that only the fittest males will win the right to mate.
And the contest is starting it's all about the antlers the bigger the better these racks of pointed bone signal the male's virility and can weigh nearly 44 pounds each spring they fall off and then grow back a little larger.
Just in time for the rut the season's been kind to this fortunate male he's attracted a harem of over a dozen females but keeping him is the hard part a challenger has entered their range he circles on the perimeter sizing up his competition.
Then they get into it ah the hero master drives off his rival proving he's fit for the role.
Antlers serve as both weapon and shield if a bull can penetrate his rival's guard the tines can inflict devastating injury though that's not the intention of the brawl the winner overpowers his opponent through wrestling and twisting the harem remains under the bull's.
Control but he has to work fast female elk will only be receptive to a male's advances for one or two days so the ball has to pay close attention while guarding his heron he rarely eats and may lose up to 20 of his body weight or 220 pounds.
as he loses weight his ability to defend his position diminishes time is of the essence but for now he has no choice but to wait while north american elk battle over mating rights.
In africa vultures compete for the biggest portion size like death's groupies vultures circle the skies above the felt waiting for something to die strictly scavengers they let disease or predators do the killing for them.
And when lions get involved they need to wait for them to finish and then polish off what the cats leave behind a wake of vultures can strip a carcass to the bone in minutes each vulture species prefers different parts.
On tanzania's serengeti a wake of vultures has to decide who's getting first dibs vultures often shadow migrating herds because sooner or later somebody's bound to drop dead the bird's keen vision and sharp sense of smell.
For sure the victim won't rest in peace for very long some things already gnawed and abandoned this vilge beast leaving the feast for taking the crowd gathers today two vulture species tear in at the same time.
It's not a display of avian altruism it's more like a show of strength about equally matched they tolerate each other vultures typically fight like crazy to gain their place at the table so.
they base their social order on body size and beak strength the big guys battle it out to win the tastiest bits while the smaller vultures wait at the sidelines for their turn to pick the scraps.
but even large feisty vultures make way for the even feistier hyena it's a love-hate relationship vultures love to have a hyena rip open a carcass for easier access but they hate that she wants it all for herself once the hyenas have their fill.
The vultures can continue their meal or maybe not the jackal wants his share and he's much more aggressive about playing it but he's underestimated who he's dealing with.
Dinner at last is served of course aggression isn't just about competing for mates or food it's also an important weapon for winning a turf war even under the sea coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet providing a home for one-fourth of all.
Marine life while they may look like plants corals are actually tiny soft-bodied animals called polyps these relatives of an enemy's jellyfish build individual limestone structures to protect themselves which over time form coral reefs and in the process polyps compete with each other for prime.
Locations the biggest battleground lies in the waters off australia's northeast coast on the great barrier reef one of the seven natural wonders of the world the great barrier reef is the largest structure on earth made of living organisms.
It's larger than the uk holland and switzerland combined under the light of a full moon the corals are said to do what all organisms must reproduce in a spectacular mass spawning event they release tiny egg and sperm bundles into the water.
after fertilizing the surface the bundles will eventually sink back to the ocean floor forming the basis of a new coral colony growing just inches every year corals face a great many challenges not the least of which are other corals.
Different coral species try to dominate their neighbors they deal with stinging tentacles or expel filaments to digest their competition often creating a cleared band where rivals have killed each other off.
On healthy reefs prime real estate is always in demand not just by corals but also algae sponges and clams on the reef these slow-motion turf wars are never ending but corals can also form alliances with other organisms when algae photosynthesizes it provides.
Energy for the corals but this balance has reached a tipping point a new aggressor is moving in rising sea temperature it stresses the corals which evicts the coloured algae a process called bleaching.
Without their algae energy source the bleached corals lose vitality and are under even more stress in their weakened state the corals are more likely to be killed off a tragedy for them and for all the marine life that depends on them over millions of years coral has evolved.
Ways to thrive and defend itself against intruders but today climate change presents one of its greatest challenges now we return to dry land very dry land the african desert where the cape ground squirrel makes his.
Home these social rodents live in separate male and female groups with overlapping ranges and scarce resources conflict becomes a way of life in south africa the kuru desert region.
Is home to a large population of ground squirrels in such a harsh environment finding food is always a challenge they spent about 70 of their day looking for it water's even scarcer they get the moisture they need from the plants and insects they eat.
And when the sun beats down they put the top up for shade when a beetle shows up the hunt is on the young male squirrel follows the scent trail driving the beetle out and making the kill.
but before he can reap the reward he must fight for it with an age-based hierarchy young male is forced to surrender his prize cape ground squirrels settle their differences by leaping.
Squaring off with backs arched rival squirrels compete to out-jump one another the quick contest determines a winner avoids injury and saves energy with the dispute resolved order is restored.
Until a new threat approaches the guard spots the predator and emits an alert call retreating to their boroughs won't protect them from this enemy they must face it in the open.
they don't have much defense against the venomous cobra except limber feet and a gutsy attitude they mobbed the snake in here he won't be sneaking up on anyone around here.
the strategy works with their foe driven off the cape ground squirrels enjoy a period of relative ease in the desert now they can return to their own quarrels while cape desert squirrels have adapted.
To the life in the desert these next animals can be found running free through much of the world horses we call them wild but because they're descended from domesticated stock most.
Wild horses are technically feral horses but that doesn't make them act any less wild grace speed and stamina on their side horses have few natural predators typically traveling in small herds known as bands they're constantly on the move following grazing opportunities.
it's when they stop if their social troubles begin besides grabbing a bite to eat these stops are also a chance to grab power fights for dominance are usually brief but can cause serious injury.
dominating one opponent is not enough to determine a horse's status he must take on several rivals to stake his place in the band wherever horses run wild some will.
Always jockey for position the drama plays out in western australia's gibson desert which provides an unforgiving backdrop for its population of feral horses in australia home to the largest number of feral horses in the world they are called brumby's and many roam in western australia's.
Gibson desert for the brumbies of the desert status provides access to a precious commodity water so the strongest members of the band lording over the water holes lower ranking brumbies need to be inventive.
They dig for water beneath the surface to quench their thirst but even these makeshift drinking holes can't cool their tempers it starts with harassment chasing and nipping one another to clear space when neither brumby backs down tensions escalate into an outright brawl.
ah horses fight with all they've got charging and ramming or even biting their blunt teeth can tear flesh thanks to their powerful jaws and their hardened hooves both front and rear can land devastating blows the loser hobbles away but the winner.
Has paid heavily for his victory his injury makes his next conquest far from certain what is certain are more fights to come as the hierarchy constantly shifts and tempers flare whether it's herds of horses colonies of meerkats or coral.
Superstructures somebody always wants to be in charge and that constant push and pull drives nature forward little by little you