Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hyenas that think outside the box solve problems faster

Date:
August 8, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Innovative problem solving requires trying many different solutions. That's true for humans, and now Michigan State University researchers show that it's true for hyenas, too.

MSU researchers show that hyenas must think out of the box to solve puzzles.
Credit: Photo courtesy of MSU.

Innovative problem solving requires trying many different solutions. That's true for humans, and now Michigan State University researchers show that it's true for hyenas, too.

The study, published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, presented steel puzzle boxes with raw meat inside to wild spotted hyenas in Kenya. To get the meat, the hyenas had to slide open a bolt latch. Even though most of the animals had many opportunities to open the box, only nine out of 62 hyenas succeeded. The successful hyenas tried more solutions, including biting, flipping or pushing the box, than the ones that failed, said MSU zoology graduate student Sarah Benson-Amram.

Another requirement for success was not being afraid to approach new things. The wild hyenas had never seen a steel puzzle box before. And those hyenas that quickly contacted the box when they first saw it were more successful solving the problem than those hyenas that were slower to approach it. Although contacting unknown objects can be quite dangerous for wild animals, this research shows that risk-taking also has some benefits.

Surprisingly, one trait that did not necessarily lead to victory was persistence, said Benson-Amram.

"While those who gave up quickly were more likely to fail, some hyenas that spent more time with the puzzle box appeared to get stuck in a rut and would often try the same solutions over and over again," she said.

Like humans and other primates, hyenas have relatively large brains, said Kay Holekamp, MSU zoologist and co-author of the paper.

"A likely benefit of large brains is the ability to think flexibly about new situations and come up with solutions to novel problems," said Holekamp, co-principal investigator at the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.

The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Benson-Amram, K. E. Holekamp. Innovative problem solving by wild spotted hyenas. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1450

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Hyenas that think outside the box solve problems faster." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808163201.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, August 8). Hyenas that think outside the box solve problems faster. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808163201.htm
Michigan State University. "Hyenas that think outside the box solve problems faster." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808163201.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins