In a study recently published in the journal Zoology in the Middle East, scientists from the United States and Israel report sightings of striped hyenas roaming amid packs of grey wolves in the Negev desert.
Neither hyenas nor wolves usually behave very well in their dealings with other carnivores. Hyenas will fight, usurp kills from, and make life miserable for animals from lions to leopards to cheetahs. Wolves, for their part, will make meals out of coyotes and dogs.
The study’s co-authors — University of Tennessee, Knoxville researcher Vladimir Dinets and Israeli zoologist Beniamin Eligulashvili — think the two species traveling together may be an example of animals bending their own rules and instincts a bit, in the name of survival in an extreme, arid landscape.
“Animal behavior is often more flexible than described in textbooks,” said Dinets in a statement. “When necessary, animals can abandon their usual strategies and learn something completely new and unexpected. It’s a very useful skill for people, too.”
(Ironic that this comes out of the Middle East where our species could certainly stand to learn this lesson.)