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Giggling Hyenas

April 26, 2010

The giggling sounds of a hyena contain important information about the animal’s status, say scientists.

In the first study to decipher the hyena’s so-called “laugh”, they have shown that the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena’s age.

What is more, variations in the frequency of notes used when a hyena makes a noise convey information about the animal’s social rank.

Details of the US-based research are published in the journal BMC Ecology.

The volume of air in your lungs is a good indicator of strength ( hence age , genes + health  as well) .In moments of fear , like a clash over food or a mate , the exertion would lend itself to a display of audible lung volume  ( a growl , howl  ) . The nuances of the growl would indicate the intention of the growler ( read the post about the body as emotional store two posts back ) as the viscera are moved around a musculature and affect the timbre of the growl ( confident or sensing failure signals) .

All this helps to stop a senseless fight getting too far ( the signals are received , one loses and one wins ).The loser has helped not to weaken the winner too much but enough to determine his mating rights.

Its not a big step up to passively communicating this information in a non-confrontational way as these Hyenas are doing so that a hierarchy can be formed .


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