SPOTTED HYENA by request
posted by thehindu.com
The spotted hyena also known as laughing hyena, is a carnivorous mammal of the family Hyaenidae, of which it is the largest extant member. The species range includes all of Africa south of the Sahara save for the Congo Basin. Spotted hyenas live in large matriarchal communities called clans, which can consist of up to 80 individuals.
Though often mislabeled as cowardly scavengers, spotted hyenas derive the majority of their nourishment by hunting medium sized ungulates, and frequently clash with lions over food and territory. Studies indicate that their social intelligence is on par with some primate species. The relative amount of frontal cortex in their brains not used for motor control is higher than in other carnivorans examined, which has been attributed to their complex social lives.
The spotted hyena features prominently in African mythology and folklore, where its portrayal varies from being a bringer of light, to a symbol of immorality and depravity.
Scientists have found that the pitch and timbre of the Hyena’s ‘giggle’ is a way of communicating their hierarchy. They found that while the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena’s age, variations in the frequency of notes can encode information about dominant status.
These vocalisations are mainly produced during food contests by animals that are prevented from securing access to a kill, and have been considered a gesture of submission, the scientists say.
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