By Celia Coates
One of the reasons we enjoy stories is that they often allow us to see beyond our own lives. We can envision events and characters that are different from what’s familiar and imagine new possibilities for how things might be. We can get these glimpses without plowing through dense texts or attending lectures that make heavy demands on our attention. Learning from stories doesn’t take much work.
Here is a story from an early WINN post that still delights me: www.winnpost.org/2016/06/09/a-crab-and-a-shrimp-and/
It was wonderful to find another small article, one by Ryan Truscott, in the magazine NEW SCIENTIST a few days ago – “Hyenas seen sharing dens with warthogs and porcupines”. * Truscott wrote, “Porcupines and warthogs are often eaten by spotted hyenas, but the three species have been seen living in the same dens in Kenya.”
He described that a research team led by Marc Dupuis-Desormeaux (from York University in Toronto) had been monitoring camera traps in the Lewa wildlife conservancy when they saw that two spotted-hyena dens were also inhabited by crested porcupines and common warthogs for several weeks at a time between 2016 and 2019, “The animals were all using the same entrance, sometimes just 2 minutes apart. ‘It was like a party,’ says Dupuis-Desormeaux.”
The researchers assumed that the three species shared that entrance but not a common space within the den which probably included different branching areas that the animals could use separately. The team checked the hyena droppings and learned that there was no sign that the hyenas had been dining on their neighbors. Their explanation for that was,
“…warthogs and porcupines are well-armed with tusks and spines and within the confines of a den, hyenas are unable to launch a surprise attack as a group.” Also, the inhabitants had different habits – warthogs were out and about during the day, and the porcupines and hyenas traveled beyond their home at night. As an extra bonus, porcupines might have chewed bones left by the hyenas after they had dragged their prey into the den.
Dupuis-Desormeaux guessed that this shared arrangement was not frequent,
“It may happen every now and then, when the conditions are such that they provide a small window of opportunity.”
But it did happen. And it leaves me thinking about how we humans might learn a lesson about dealing with hard times, times when “conditions are such that” we need to take the opportunity to do things differently. Perhaps in the current hard times on our planet we might consider how to share with those who are different from us. Perhaps even those we’ve assumed are dangerous. We could face our global crises to find what kinds of careful cooperation might be of great benefit for all humans. Perhaps the other animals, both under the sea and on land, know something we could use.
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This small article by Ryan Truscott appeared in NEW SCIENTIST, on page 19 of the May 6, 2023 issue.
The image that leads this post is from exoticindia.com in Pixabay.