Hyenas Probably Have More Friends Than You: Spotted hyena social hierarchies

by Lorena Lyon figures by Lorena Lyon If you’ve ever backed down from an argument with a popular kid, you might relate to a male spotted hyena. Spotted hyenas are highly social animals, forming large groups called clans, which range from 6 to over 100 members. Hyenas in clans, like eighth graders in middle school, are sorted into complex social hierarchies. At the top of … Continue reading Hyenas Probably Have More Friends Than You: Spotted hyena social hierarchies

Sea Otters Leave an Archaeological Record of Their Tool Use

Archaeologists learn about ancient humans by excavating and analyzing historical artifacts. While the use of tools was once thought to be a uniquely human trait, this is far from the case; many terrestrial animals, including chimpanzees, macaque monkeys, and even vultures use stone tools to hunt and gather food. For aquatic animals, however, these behaviors have been difficult to observe in the wild. One exception … Continue reading Sea Otters Leave an Archaeological Record of Their Tool Use

You Asked: How are pets different from wild animals?

by Katherine J. Wu The pets in our households are all descendants of wild animals, many of which still run free today. But dogs, cats, and rodents are all domesticated to varying degrees, with a wide range of consequences for their behavior and genetics. To understand the nitty gritty of this, let’s get some terminology out of the way first. When we discuss domestication, we’re … Continue reading You Asked: How are pets different from wild animals?

Were the First Animals Sponge-Like?: Complexity in the animal tree of life

by Tauana Junqueira Cunha If we could travel back in time 540 million years, what would the first animals look like? This is one of the longstanding questions scientists aim to answer in the study of how animals evolved and became distinct from their unicellular relatives. To answer it, we need to know how modern animals are related to each other, what order they appeared … Continue reading Were the First Animals Sponge-Like?: Complexity in the animal tree of life