Scientists discover new subtleties in hyena communication

Uncategorized By May 19, 2023

Hyenas have a far more complex language system than previously thought, new research has found. The animals communicate through vocalisations, scents and body language, according to a study in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. The female hyena’s “giggle”, which is distinct from the “laugh” that is commonly associated with the animals, was one discovery. It was found to be used during friendly interactions such as sniffing and grooming. Hyenas also use scent markers by rubbing their anogenital glands on grasses or other objects and raise or lower their tails to indicate their mood and situation.

Scientists have made an exciting discovery in the world of hyena communication. A recent study has shown that these fascinating animals have a much more complex language than previously understood. The research, which was published in the journal “Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology”, sheds light on the different ways hyenas communicate with each other.

Hyenas belong to the family Hyaenidae, comprising four living species: spotted hyenas, brown hyenas, striped hyenas, and aardwolves. They are known for their distinctive vocalizations, which can be heard from miles away. However, researchers have now found that these vocalizations are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their communication methods.

One of the most important discoveries of the study is the existence of a unique “giggle”. The giggle is a vocalization made by female hyenas during social interactions. It is a long, high-pitched sound that is distinct from the low-pitched “laugh” typically associated with hyenas. The researchers found that the giggle is associated with friendly interactions between female hyenas, such as sniffing each other’s body parts or grooming.

Another noteworthy discovery is that hyenas also communicate via scent. Hyenas have a scent gland located near their anus that produces a pungent odour. By rubbing their scent gland on grass blades or other objects, hyenas leave a scent marker that can communicate vital information to other members of their clan. For instance, scent markers can reveal hyenas’ location, sex, social status, and health condition.

Furthermore, the researchers observed that hyenas’ tails play a role in their communication. Hyenas’ tails can be raised or lowered, depending on the individual’s mood and the situation. For example, a hyena that is feeling threatened or aggressive will lower its tail, whereas a hyena that is feeling confident or playful will raise its tail.

The study also observed that hyenas’ social dynamics are more complex than previously known. Hyenas live in clans dominated by females, and reproductive success is heavily influenced by social status. As such, hyenas engage in a wide range of social behaviours, such as aggression, submission, and play.

The findings of the study have important implications for understanding hyena behaviour and can contribute to the conservation efforts of these species. By improving our knowledge of hyenas’ communication and social dynamics, we can better protect them from threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict.

In conclusion, hyenas are fascinating animals with a complex communication system that includes vocalizations, scents, and body language. By studying hyenas, we can learn valuable insights about animal behaviour and the natural world.

Q: How do hyenas communicate with each other?
A: Hyenas communicate with each other through vocalizations, scent markings, and body language.

Q: What is the hyena giggle?
A: The hyena giggle is a high-pitched vocalization made by female hyenas during friendly interactions.

Q: What do hyenas’ scent markings communicate?
A: Hyenas’ scent markings can communicate their location, sex, social status, and health condition.

Q: How do hyenas’ tails indicate their mood?
A: Hyenas’ tails can be raised or lowered, depending on their mood and the situation. A raised tail indicates confidence or playfulness, while a lowered tail indicates aggression or threat.

Q: Why is understanding hyenas’ communication important?
A: Understanding hyenas’ communication can help us protect these species better and contribute to their conservation efforts. It can also provide valuable insights into animal behaviour and the natural world.