Scientists have discovered that the white rhino dung has a lot in common with Facebook posts. It is like a social networking site that can be found using your nose. Scientists are observing white rhinos in South Africa, and have found that the animals are using it as a social messaging board. To leave notes about their statuses and read posts of others.
The researchers share insights into the behavior of these social animals. And could even help find keys on how to conserve these animals. Mammals are commonly known for leaving urine signals. But using dung signals had caught lesser attention.
Lead author Courtney Marneweck, an ecologist and doctoral student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said in an email that urine has been focused on studies. Maybe because urine signals are so obvious. The urine function is obviously more than pure elimination. And because specific behaviors are less common when defecating, that caused the communicator significance is not realized.
But scientist begun to suspect that white rhino dung may actually play an important role in the animals’ social communication. Marneweck said by observing the behavior of white rhinos they are sure that rhinos are using middens to gather information. This was first noticed by a South African researcher named Norman Owen Smith during the 1970s. However, only recently developments made it possible for researchers understand odors.
Researchers said that white rhino dung is really a good model for the study, for the reason that rhinos have poor eyesight and rely on olfaction heavily. The middens that they use are large are large, frequent and easily found. The plan was to gather white rhino dung after they defecate and study whether which individual deposited each sample, and whether does the dung say something about the age and the gender.
According to the Washington Post, the findings show that white rhino dung leaves specific posts that inform the local population of its social activity. According to the National Geographic, aside from the white rhino dung confirmed to be used as social communicator, other animals such as gazelles, monkeys, and rabbits gets their gossips from middens too.