One animal that, so far as we know, has not appeared on Nigella's menu yet is the latest subject of our series, Sounds Wild. Student zoologist Sarah Benson-Amram from Michigan State University lived in a tent in Kenya for two years studying spotted hyenas, and she tells MORNING EDITION how she recorded their sounds.

(Soundbite of hyenas)

Ms. SARAH BENSON-AMRAM (Student Zooloist, Michigan State University): I had been driving around for a couple hours just looking for different hyenas, and it was near a river. The hyena was actually hidden in a hole in the ground. Whooping pretty - it was a pretty distressed-sounding whoop. Her name is Pan, one of the top-ranking hyenas in our study clan. She had, on her shoulder, a lion paw scratch marks. There was also a carcass around 300 meters from this scene, so my guess is that they had had an interaction with lions earlier that morning that I hadn't seen, and that they had gotten pretty beat up. Spotted hyenas are really interesting. They live in social groups called clans of up to 90 individuals, and it's a female-dominated society.

(Soundbite of hyenas)

Ms. BENSON-AMRAM: Spotted hyenas, in particular, are often called laughing hyenas because of this vocalization; they giggle. And it actually has nothing to do with hyenas having a good time. In fact, they're usually pretty stressed out. Often they giggle when they've been attacked. You'll often have just a whole mess of hyenas trying to get access to a carcass, so you'll have one hyena biting another, and when that happens, the hyena that's been bitten will often giggle. So you hear a lot of giggles at carcasses.

(Soundbite of hyenas)

Ms. BENSON-AMRAM: I love them. They just have personality. You know, there are some that are just really aggressive. There are some that are more playful, some that are really curious. It's like a soap opera. You follow their lives, and you get really involved.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Thanks to NPR science correspondent Christopher Joyce and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology for tracking down these sounds. And you can hear more of them at

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