Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spotted HyenaImage via Wikipedia
Chimpanzees may be smarter than spotted hyenas, but a new study has found that latter outperform the primates on cooperative problem-solving tests.

An evolutionary anthropologist says in the study published online in the October issue of 'Animal Behaviour' that captive pairs of spotted hyenas which needed to tug two ropes in unison to earn a food reward cooperated successfully and learned the maneuvers quickly with no training.

Experienced hyenas even helped inexperienced partners do the trick, he was quoted as saying by the 'Science Daily'.

On the other hand, chimpanzees and other primates many a times require extensive training while cooperation between individuals may not be easy, said Christine Drea, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University.

Drea's research shows that social carnivores such as spotted hyenas may be good models for investigating cooperative problem solving and the evolution of social intelligence.

"This study shows that spotted hyenas are more adept at these sorts of cooperation and problem-solving studies in the lab than chimps are," she said.

Researchers have focused on primates for decades with an assumption that higher cognitive functioning in large-brained animals should enable organised teamwork.

But Drea's study demonstrates that social carnivores, including dogs, may be very good at cooperative problem solving, even though their brains are comparatively smaller, the Daily reported.

Blog Archive