When they want to play a fight, and not show real aggression, hyenas nod and make faces at each other to keep everyone friendly.
This is the discovery of researchers from the University of Pisa who analyzed the behavior of 24 wild spotted hyenas in a reserve in South Africa…
Laughing aside, hyenas are known for living in groups with strong hierarchy – with social domination, asserted through brutal battles.
However, it looks like giggling creatures They also spend a significant amount of time playing with each other.
And as the team found out, hyenas always make sure they all know the true nature of the game through a robust form of body language-based communication.
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When they want to play a fight, and not show real aggression, hyenas nod their heads and make faces at each other (as in the photo) to keep everyone friendly.
The team found that both hyenas subtly use body language cues to communicate with each other when fights are not actually aggressive in nature. The main signal – a relaxed open mouth (as depicted in this artist’s image) – is similar to the expression seen in chimpanzees, bears, dogs, and seals when they play a fight, and was only used by hyenas during play.
The spotted hyena can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Also known as the laughing hyena, this species is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
However, poaching and habitat loss began to dramatically decrease the population.
Spotted hyenas are considered the most common large carnivores in Africa, although it is believed that they may have originated in Asia and even spread throughout Europe until the late Pleistocene.
The study was carried out by evolutionary biologist Elisabetta Palaggi and colleagues at the University of Pisa in Italy.
“It seems that if I want to play hard, I need signals to make it clear that I am not attacking you – and that this is just a game,” said Dr. Palaggi. New scientist…
In their research, the team analyzed 38 hours of video footage of in-game combat between 24 wild spotted hyenas – Crocuta crocuta – at the Greater Makalali Private Wildlife Refuge near Limpopo, South Africa.
The film shows that both adults and young hyenas often play fights with each other, during which they subtly use body language signals to inform each other that the fight is not actually aggressive.
The main signal – a relaxed, open mouth – is similar to the expression previously seen in chimpanzees, bears, dogs, and seals when they play a fight, and was only used by hyenas during play.
Another used body language signal is the characteristic head bob, not unlike that seen in toy boobies. It is, however, also used by hyenas during other delicate interactions such as rubbing the muzzle or before mating.
One surprising discovery made by the researchers was that in-game fights tended to last longer than the uneven fights were.
This is in stark contrast to the playful behavior of most animals, which tend to stop fighting or escalate into real conflict when one side clearly wins.
“This is completely different from any other kind. It’s incredible, ”said Dr. Palaggi.
The reason the hyenas are able to handle this task, the team said, probably lies in their good communication methods – since the more one hyena seemed to win the game, the more they displayed an open-mouthed facial expression.
Likewise, adults who fought in games with teenagers also tended to show this facial expression more often – even though young people when playing with each other tended to rely more on shaking their heads to express their non-aggressive behavior.
The other body language signal used was the characteristic head bob (pictured above), not unlike those seen in toy boobies. It is, however, also used by hyenas during other delicate interactions such as rubbing the muzzle or before mating.
One surprising discovery made by the researchers was that play-based encounters among wild spotted hyenas (such as the one pictured here) tended to last longer than the more unequal encounter.
No matter what body language the hyenas choose to start a play session, the animals always make sure their friend is looking at them before they do.
“They don’t just rely on vocalizations. Visual cues such as facial expressions and posture are important, ”explained Dr. Palaggi.
In their research, the team analyzed 38 hours of video footage of a fight between 24 wild spotted hyenas – Crocuta crocuta – at the Great Makalali Private Wildlife Refuge in South Africa.
No joke: high-ranking hyena mothers pass their social media on to their cubs, study found
The study found that in a highly structured hyena society, when high-ranking mothers have children, they pass on social media to their daughters.
They live in groups that can grow to over 100, but there is order within their clans and women are in charge, the University says. Pennsylvania biologists.
Earlier studies examined the social structure of hyenas and other animals, but this new work analyzed 27 years of detailed observations of hyenas’ behavior.
Their findings show that, as in human society, the “wealthy” pass on beneficial connections to their children, and the same thing happens in hyena society.
Those with a higher rank are more likely to pass on friends, acquaintances, and other useful connections than those lower in the clan’s social ladder.
“It’s kind of intuitive, because similar things happen in human society,” the authors explained, adding that people often inherit their connections.
The daughters of the hyena elite also lived longer, likely due to the fact that they were “cared for” by closer friends and family for a longer period of time.