Javier Sotomayor’s world record for the high jump currently stands at 2.45 metres. That’s pretty impressive by human standards (it’s stood for 23 years now), but it’s a distance that a puma would find laughable. The feline predators can leap more than double that height – up to 5.4 metres from a standing position. And big cats also far outdo humans in the long jump. Snow leopards can achieve a distance of 15 metres in just a single leap. That’s ten times the length of their bodies.
Can you sound the alarm by laughing? – A hyena’s famous squeaky cackle, which sounds uncannily like a human’s laugh, has a serious side to it Researchers have recently discovered that the pitch of the laugh reveals the age of the animal, as well as conveying status when fighting over food. Hyenas can increase the intensity of the cry to recruit allies, for instance when one or two of the animals are outnumbered by lions fighting over some kill. The ‘tone’ of the giggle can also be used to sound the alarm if the animal is snapped up by a predator.
Who is the most successful predator? – Lions are successful in one out of every five hunts. For tigers and leopards the success rate lies between five and 38%, while our own domestic cats taste victory on every third attempt. All of these rates pale in comparison to Africa’s black-footed cat. The 40cm-long wild cat happily snares between ten and 14 prey a night, including birds and shrews, with a success rate of 60%. It needs them, too – the cat has to ingest at least 250 grams of food daily, a whopping sixth of its body weight.
Are male lions lazy all the time? For years it was assumed that male lions leave the hard work to the females, only making an appearance at the dinner table after the big hunt. But scientists have now shown the very opposite to be true. Thanks to a new technique of following the hunt, they found that male lions also get their paws dirty. Unlike the females, who hunt in a pack and kettle their prey, male lions go it alone. They hide in the undergrowth and lie in wait. The image of male lions as lazy chauvinists is, it turns out, a myth.