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Four infant coyotes (Canis latrans) were studied in order to describe quantitatively the development of predatory behaviour. Our results indicated that prior play and agonistic experience had virtually no effect on later predatory success. Also, there was no relationship between an individual's social rank and its prey-killing ability. Latency to kill was shortened when animals were tested in, pair and hunger level was not related to latency to kill. The results are discussed with respect to current 'functionalist' theories of play behaviour and Leyhausen's concept of the relative hierarchy of moods. The practice theory of play should be reconsidered in light of the results of this and other recent studies.


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