We all know hyenas are super cool. That’s well established–just look at Bonzai, Shenzi, and Ed. They’re the wisecracking, ironic badasses of the animal kingdom (fittingly, the same role that bloggers fill in the human kingdom). But did you know that their giggles vary according to social status? You didn’t. Well, lucky for you, UC Berkeley researchers just published a report detailing that very fact.

According to the article, dominant hyenas have a “steady, confident-sounding giggle” while “subordinate ones produce a more variable call.” And let’s remember, too, that this is hyena society, where “hypermasculinized females dominate males and there is strict hierarchy among a clan” (kind of like roller derby?).

It almost makes you feel sorry for the poor little subordinate hyenas. Apparently there is “a level of frustration or stress that comes through in the variability of [their] giggles.” Like that awkward kid in lecture whose constant horselike laugh borders on the insane.

Hyena giggles also vary with age (pitch is lower when older) and each hyena has a distinctive giggle. Sadly, researchers sometimes have difficulty proving this since, according to the article, it is sometimes “hard to determine who giggled what.” Yeah, we know the feeling.

But the best part of this new research? Besides the sounds of actual hyenas laughing which you can access here? We apparently have a UC Berkeley hyena colony.

Now the only question that remains is, where does this hyena colony hang? They’re way too cool for campus, but maybe they frequent some cafe on College Avenue? We should definitely check it out, especially now that we finally know what a socially magnetic hyena giggle sounds like.

Image source: Mister-E under Creative Commons
Giggles give clues to hyena’s social status [UC Berkeley News]

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