Social Inheritance

Mom’s trying to friend you on Facebook again – should you “Accept?”

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Life in the wild? It’s survival of the fittest! But some animals might have a family advantage.

Like we humans, spotted hyenas are social animals. This means they hunt and live together in groups. But someone has to be on top! Does their parents’ social standing give hyena cubs an edge? 

Ask Amiyaal Ilany from Bar-Ilan University and colleagues. They used nearly thirty years of wild hyena observations to track hyena social networks and family relationships. The researchers then analyzed how this affected their lives in the long-term.  

Their findings? Hyenas inherit social standing from their mothers! This is especially true for daughters. The HIGHER the social standing of the mother, the LONGER the cub’s social benefits last. Perks include being first-in-line to learn hunting and defensive skills.  

It’s all about who you know for a hyena —  AND for us!

So say “yes” to mom’s friend request. It might help YOU become Leader of the Pack!

Reference: Ilany, A., Holekamp, K. E., & Akçay, E. (2021). Rank-dependent social inheritance determines social network structure in spotted hyenas. Science, 373(6552), 348–352.