Feeds

Hyenas FACEBOOK each other with their ARSES: FACT

It's like a business card, say po-faced boffins

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Whiffy bacteria found in hyenas' anal secretions function as a natural social network, boffins claim.

Researchers from Michigan State University examined the pongy bacteria hyenas leave behind whenever they smear their secretions, or "paste", on a tree, plant or grass stalk.

The excretions contain friendly microbes, which emit smells which serve as "messages" for other hyenas to interpret.

"The sour-smelling signals relay reams of information for other animals to read,” said Kevin Theis, an MSU postdoctoral researcher. “Hyenas can leave a quick, detailed message and go. It’s like a bulletin board of who’s around and how they’re doing.

“Scent posts are bulletin boards, pastes are business cards, and bacteria are the ink, shaped into letters and words that provide information about the paster to the boards’ visitors. Without the ink, there is potentially just a board of blank uninformative cards.”

The researchers studied several groups of male and female spotted or striped hyenas in Kenya.

They then analysed the molecular structure of the vast array of microbes which live in the hyena's bum juice.

The scientists found the diversity of bacteria was far higher than previously estimated, with large differences in the type of bug found in each species' paste.

Different bacteria signal a variety of things, including how keen a hyena is to mate, with varying smells emitted to indicate reproductive states. Each species also appears to have its own smell and therefore a unique bacterial culture within its paste.

The research differed from previous studies because the scientists examined the microbes in the wild, rather than by creating a culture. Boffins also combined odour data from wild animals with the microbial surveys to identify a symbiotic relationship between bug and beast.

“There have been around 15 prior studies pursuing this line of research,” Theis continued. “But they typically relied on culture-based methods, an approach in which many of the similarities and differences in bacterial communities can be lost. If we used those traditional methods, many of the key findings that are driving our research wouldn’t be detected at all.

“Now I just need to get back into the field to test new predictions generated by this study. The next phase of this research will be to manipulate the bacterial communities in hyenas’ scent glands to test if their odors change in predictable ways.”

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.