The Web of Life (14-8) Hyrax Songs

 Hyrax Songs

Hyraxes are thickset rodent-like creatures, 30–70 cm long and 2–5 kg. As early English biblical translators did not know of hyraxes, they are referred to in The Bible as coneys, a term usually applied to rabbits. Hyraxes are closely related to elephants.

As a courtship ritual, male hyraxes sing to potential mates. Their songs consist of a series of various sounds: wails, snorts, and chucks. Hyrax songs are a musical curriculum vitae.

Wails indicate weight. The more wails, the heftier the singer. Chucks communicate body size (length, head diameter) and stress level. A series of snorts inform about social dominance, condition of the pelt, and quality of certain male hormones.

These fitness signals cannot be counterfeited. Thus, female hyraxes are sung a reliable précis of the strengths and weaknesses of each of their potential mates.