Prehistoric hyenas and humans share migration patterns

New research into the evolutionary history and prehistoric migrations of hyenas reveals surprising similarities between hyenas and prehistoric humans. The results from the University of Copenhagen and University of Potsdam ...

For hyenas, there's no 'I' in clan

When it comes to advancing social status, it's not what you know, it's who you know—for humans and spotted hyenas alike.

Hyena population recovers slowly from a disease epidemic

Infectious diseases can substantially reduce the size of wildlife populations, thereby affecting both the dynamics of ecosystems and biodiversity. Predicting the long-term consequences of epidemics is thus essential for conservation. ...

Mobs are, sometimes, good

Submitting to mob mentality is always a risky endeavor, for humans or hyenas. A new Michigan State University study focusing on the latter, though, shows that when it comes to battling for food, mobbing can be beneficial.

Dino dinner, dead or alive

When asked to think of meat-eating dinosaurs we usually conjure images of voracious predators chasing down helpless prey. These visions are no doubt inspired by the depiction of species such as Tyrannosaurs rex and Velociraptor ...

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Hyena

Hyenas or Hyaenas (from Greek "ὕαινα" - hyaina) are the animals of the family Hyaenidae ( /hɪˈɛnɨdɛ/) of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. It is the fourth smallest biological family in the Carnivora (consisting of four species), and one of the smallest in the mammalia. Despite their low diversity, hyenas are unique and vital components to most African and some Asian ecosystems.

Although phylogenetically close to felines and viverrids, hyenas are behaviourally and morphologically similar to canines in several aspects (see Convergent evolution); both hyenas and canines are non-arboreal, cursorial hunters that catch prey with their teeth rather than claws. Both eat food quickly and may store it, and their calloused feet with large, blunt, non-retractible nails are adapted for running and making sharp turns. However, the hyenas' grooming, scent marking, defecating habits, mating and parental behaviour are consistent with the behaviour of other feliforms. Although long reputed to be cowardly scavengers, hyenas, especially spotted hyenas, kill as much as 95% of the food they eat, and have been known to drive off leopards or lionesses from their kills. Hyenas are primarily nocturnal animals, but may venture from their lairs in the early morning hours. With the exception of the highly social spotted hyena, hyenas are generally not gregarious animals, though they may live in family groups and congregate at kills.

Hyenas first arose in Eurasia during the Miocene period from viverrid-like ancestors, and developed into two distinct branches; the lightly built dog-like hyenas and the robust bone-crushing hyenas. Although the dog-like hyenas thrived 15 million years ago (with one taxon having colonised North America), they died out after a change in climate along with the arrival of canids into Eurasia. Of the dog-like hyena lineage, only the insectivorous aardwolf survived, while the bone-crushing hyenas (whose extant members are the spotted, brown and striped hyena) became the undisputed top scavengers of Eurasia and Africa.

Hyenas feature prominently in the folklore and mythology of human cultures with which they are sympatric. Hyenas are mostly viewed with fear and contempt, as well as being associated with witchcraft, as their body parts are used as ingredients in traditional medicine. Among the beliefs held by some cultures, hyenas are thought to influence people’s spirits, rob graves, and steal livestock and children.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA