Paste collection is one of many duties I am responsible for as a research assistant for the MSU Hyena project. In addition to collecting paste during dartings we also collect paste from stalks out in the field. A couple of days ago my fellow RAs and I embarked on a journey in search of paste stalks.
In order to find the paste we had to channel our inner hyenas. Usually I am unable to smell paste but that day my nose decided to develop and invite a new smell for my brain to register. While paste is not the worst thing I have ever smelled it is a scent I could do without.
Benson, Wilson, and I doing our best to detect the lovely smell of paste.
We typically go out to the dens in the afternoon when the hyenas aren’t around to collect paste stalks. Once we arrive at the den we look for the presence of paste on the stalk we saw the hyenas paste on earlier in the day. For those who aren’t as lucky or maybe I should say lucky to be able to smell paste they can find it visually. It has a dark brown appearance and is similar to the consistency of peanut butter. When smelling for paste I would advise against putting your nose too close to the stalk or else you’ll end up with what I like to call a “paste-y nose” (the paste from the stalk leaves residue on your nose when contact is made). Unfortunately Benson learned this the hard way!
Benson, Chase, and Wilson smelling a stalk for paste.
Once we find the paste we cut the paste portion of the stalk from the un-pasted portion. We place these pieces into two separate vials and the un-pasted portion serves as our control.
Want to learn more about paste and what happens after we send the vials back to Michigan? Stay tuned to the MSU Hyena blog.