back to article Hyenas FACEBOOK each other with their ARSES: FACT

Whiffy bacteria found in hyenas' anal secretions function as a natural social network, boffins claim. Researchers from Michigan State University examined the pongy bacteria hyenas leave behind whenever they smear their secretions, or "paste", on a tree, plant or grass stalk. The excretions contain friendly microbes, which …


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  1. frank ly

    Disruptive experiments

    Would it be posible to cause confusion and disruption in hyena society by 'posting' false messages using these bacterial cultures? Would this be an ethical experiment?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Disruptive experiments

      What would that be called, Tree Trolling, Urinal Usurpation or maybe even Shit Stalking ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disruptive experiments

      "Would it be posible to cause confusion and disruption in hyena society by 'posting' false messages using these bacterial cultures? "

      Probably. I already communicate with my fellow workers through the scent of my "paste". A light, sulphurous whiff says "Ledswinger has released a dreadnought in a nearby cubicle, I'd give it five minutes if I were you". A throat catching daisy cutter with a bitterness somewhere around that stuff you paint on your nails, that says two things: "Run, save yourself" and "85% cocoa solids, mate". Then there's the compelling yet noxious mixture of heat, fruit and shit, that says "I had a proper madras last night; real good it was, but now I'm suffering from hog's eye of Sauron".

      And finally, there's that horrible sicky, bile scented smell that tells everybody that the paste was extremely loose, hot and fast moving, and that they are now at risk of contracting whatever's given me the shits.

      You do the design of the experiment, including the foodstuffs, and I'll come armed with my arse.

  2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Helping elderly relatives

    So the next time an elderly relative asks me what this Facebook thing is that everyone talks about, I can say with a straight face "it's like a collection of hyenas' bottoms".

    1. Quxy

      "a collection of hyenas' bottoms"

      How appropriate. Mister Cat, you owe me a new keyboard!

  3. thomas k.


    OMG, don't tell Zuckerberg about this!

    1. HkraM

      Re: Fecebook!

      Or it could be Shitter?

      1. Gavin King

        Re: Fecebook!

        Nah: I don't think it could be much "shitter" than it already is.

  4. Simon Harris

    bottomnal Facebook?

    Surely the correct term is ArseBook!

  5. Steve Foster

    @Simon Harris

    Awesome. Have an upvote.

  6. i like crisps


    People are always telling me that i talk out of my Arse.

  7. anatak


    how do you put this on your resume ?

    olfactorial social interaction research ?

  8. AceRimmer1980
    IT Angle

    Were they really doing serious experiments?

    or just going through the motions?

  9. Graham Marsden

    "a natural social network"

    Given the amount of crap there is on Facebook, I can see a comparison...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just like Fakeborg users then, sh*t flinging over t'interwebs!

  11. TRT Silver badge


    also communicate through carefully controlled bottom emissions. Stick that in your 50th Doctor series!

    Interesting anal lysis anyway.

  12. J. Cook Silver badge

    I was wondering when the toilet humor would start from this article. At least it was all natural, and we didn't have to force it.

    Mines the one with the roll of bog paper in the pocket.

  13. Identity

    Doesn't seem so unusual to me

    As a long-time observer of dogs, I note (for instance) that they all stop at the "No Dogs in Cemetery" sign by my house to leave messages, which I refer to as p-mail.

  14. jlb

    I would be interested in the reaction of other readers to the term "boffin". To me, as a scientist, it seems demeaning.

    Wikipedia says:

    "During World War II, boffin was applied with some affection to scientists and engineers working on new military technologies. ... Over time, however, as Britain's high-technology enterprises became less dominant, the mystique of the boffin gradually faded, and by the 1980s boffins were relegated, in UK popular culture, to semi-comic supporting characters such as Q, the fussy armourer-inventor in the James Bond films, and the term itself gradually took on a slightly negative connotation."

    I suspect that journalists use such terms to protect their egos when a subject is over their heads and they're fearful of getting it wrong. That may seem like a harmless way to add some humor to a column. But, it diminishes science and its practitioners in the eyes of the public at a time when we need to be taking science-based issues like global warming very seriously.

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      What Did You Call Me?

      @jlb, I do not know how long you have read El Reg, but I can see that you have been very consistent in voicing your discontent with the term boffin and its use here. Rather than take the cheap shot I could given that you describe yourself as a scientist and immediately follow up by citing Wikipedia, I would like to gently steer you to this article posted way back in 2010. Please pay special attention to the bootnote.

      All better now?

  15. sisk

    And you thought the human Facebook was full of crap.

  16. Johnny Canuck

    I liked the "bum juice facebook" headline you had earlier.

  17. Joe User

    "Depositing" information

    "The sour-smelling signals relay reams of information for other animals to read," said Kevin Theis, an MSU postdoctoral researcher.

    The primary message being "My arse needs a wash."

  18. Soap Distant

    My ArseBook Status...

    Simon Harris you beat me to that!

    Status: Just pooed on a tree, thought you'd all want to know.

    So it's pretty much like facebook then.


  19. MrDamage Silver badge

    Obligatory Family Guy

    Ass Race

  20. Mr. Peterson

    they call it

    Data Sliming

  21. Sheep!

    You know you have WAY too much time on your hands...

    ...when you are studying hyena's anal secretions for status updates.

  22. BuckeyeB

    Accident chasers....Alert !

    So does Zuckerberg owe these animals royalties for infringement on their apparently copyright. I wonder if a lawyer would take the case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Accident chasers....Alert !

      Of course. They might even get a job. Lawyers are paid to wade through shit looking for something they can use in an argument.

  23. Luther Blissett

    Now we know

    Another reason why there are birds.

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