Hyenas' Laughter Gives Clues About Age, Dominance And Identity

Monday, March 29, 2010 - 19:00 in Biology & Nature

Ecologists writing in BMC Ecology say the "giggle" sound made by spotted hyenas has revealed that the animals' laughter encodes information about age, dominance and identity.  Researchers recorded the calls of 26 hyenas in captivity and found that variations in the giggles' pitch and timbre may help hyenas to establish social hierarchies. "The hyena's laugh gives receivers cues to assess the social rank of the emitting individual. This may allow hyenas to establish feeding rights and organize their food-gathering activities," said Frédéric Theunissen, a researcher the University of California at Berkeley. read more

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