They may laugh, but can they count?

Liaka ac [creativecommons license] via Wikimedia Commons

Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), or laughing hyenas, live in complex clans in which subgroups form and dissolve frequently and inter-group conflicts are common. This type of social structure is believed by some researchers to encourage the development of cognitive skills and has led them to wonder about cognition in hyenas. Sarah Benson-Amram (Michigan State University, East Lansing) specifically evaluated hyenas’ counting ability, reasoning that this skill would be useful in assessing group size and determining one’s odds of winning in a conflict.

Lab Anim. (NY) 40, 290 (2011).
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