For male chimpanzees, there may be a benefit to being a bully.

Scientists said Thursday a study of chimpanzees in Tanzania spanning 17 years found that males that subjected females to long-term aggressive behavior, often including physical attacks, greatly improved their chances of fathering babies with them.

"It is certainly not a happy message," said Arizona State University evolutionary anthropologist Ian Gilby, one of the researchers. "Males who directed aggression toward females at high rates were more likely to sire those females' offspring than less violent males were. This effect was particularly strong for high ranking males (in the chimpanzee community)."