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 September 15, 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 September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) — Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
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