Microbes help hyenas send status updates

By Science News Staff, 14:48 PM November 11, 2013

Guest post by Susan Milius

The scent of a hyena may actually come from its microbes.

Both striped and spotted hyenas rub lumpy structures under their tails against grass stalks and other convenient sign posts where passersby can sniff out status updates.

Whether the microbes teeming in the leftover rubbings, called paste, could give these or any other mammal scent marks reliably distinctive smells has been a matter of discussion among biologists since the 1970s. Now high-powered genetic techniqu...

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