More repulsive in appearance, the mammal than the hyena, it is hard to imagine. Body and face – from mongrel dogs, ears – cat grin – the lion. And powerful jaws, unlike any other jaw of the animal world! Joke – pressure on anything that gets on them is 70 kg/cm2. This means that in a matter of minutes, they are a good grinder that can grind bones in a meat of almost any animal.
The hyena a cat or a dog?
Of course, these unattractive features of an animal born on the rumors and legends. For example, some African tribes believed that hyenas are evil spirits who come by night to the grave and furiously ruin them. The inhabitants of savannas and deserts led them on a furious hunt, preferring to see these frightening scavengers in dead than in live. And then buried the bodies so deep in the sand to the evil hyenas in any case it doesn’t come out.
For a long time these animals are considered polykote and prosobee, not yet determined and has not attributed them to the Carnivora family of hyenas.
But this description introduced the Latin terms:
- Caniformia, i.e. cobacabana hyenas. This species with a distinctive sharp snout of a dog, propriedade gait and clawed, unable for the cat to get involved in the paws. A typical representative of the class – earthen wolf.
- Feliformia, i.e. korkoobraznymi hyenas. These representatives have a short snout, sloping the back by short hind legs, long rough coat with a distinctive mane around their necks and retractable claws. Bright representative of the class – the spotted hyena.
Four types of hyenas
Currently known only four species of hyenas. The lightest weight is considered to be an earthen wolf. Its mass, as a rule, does not exceed 10 kilograms. The largest predator is the spotted hyena, individuals which reach 85 pounds. Between them is a weighted category that includes brown hyena and striped hyena.
All the predators have approximately the same habits, but different in coloration, habitat, and food preferences. The table below shows the features of each types in order of increasing weight and power of individuals.
|Hyena||Habitat and habitat||Appearance, height, weight, life expectancy||Behavior and habits|
|The earthen wolf or Protel||Distributed in Africa. Lives in dry savannas, dwells in burrows.||Big ears, short hind legs, 5 toes on front feet and 4 on the back, the mane from the neck to the tail base, yellow-white fur with stripes. Body length from 55 to 85 cm, Weight 10-12 kg Lives in nature up to 10 years.||Feeds on termites, beetle larvae. When you attack it makes a roaring sound and resposive mane, thereby increasing in size, wasting an unpleasant odor from the anal glands.|
|Brown hyena||Inhabits the African Savannah.||Colour dark brown, without bands. Long ears, shaggy coat, powerful jaws. Body length without the tail — from 85 to 150 cm. males can weigh up to 43-45 kg. Lives in nature up to 20 years.||It feeds on carrion, small rodents, fruits, birds ‘ eggs. Can smell prey from afar, in search of carrion per night can travel up to 50 km.|
|Striped hyena||It lives in Africa and Asia. Chooses to live in savannahs, low bushes, ravines, caves, gorges.||Short hind legs. The feet have 4 fingers. Gray color with stripes all over the body. Length without tail 110-135 cm Weight: male 70 kg. Live in nature, up to 15 years in captivity longer.||Omnivorous. Eats carrion, turtles, rodents, eggs, nuts, vegetables. It hunts at night. In flocks not going to live in pairs. Like their congeners, have an unpleasant odor.|
|Spotted hyena||African resident. Settles in savannas, semi deserts, woodlands||Has the most powerful jaws. The head is large, the muzzle blunt. Length from 125 to 165 cm Weight 85 kg. Lives in the nature of 20-25 years. In zoos, there are instances in 40 years.||I live and hunt in packs. Eat alive, and rotten meat. The stomach will digest meat and bones, and horns, and hooves. Pursue prey at any time of the day.|
The table shows that the spotted hyena is the largest member of the family. The powerful jaws of the beast snack in one sitting the bones of antelope, Buffalo, Zebra. Hunting in packs on the animals of the Savannah, they arrange a real slaughter, when on-the-fly with a speed of 60 km/ h into the side of the victim and begin to shred still alive. Saturate the meat with blood, insatiable Crookshanks will not refuse dessert in the form of turtles, fish, snakes, lizards. Adult healthy individual is able to eat up to 14 kg of feed. But she is drinking very little.
Clans with a clear hierarchy
In social terms , the spotted hyena is a very organized predator. No one else from her relatives there is no clear social ladder as these individuals. Hyenas live in clans in which everyone obeys the rules of matriarchy. Even the frail female its significance is superior to any male. A clan can include up to 80 individuals. The most blatant and strongest female becomes the leader of the clan, and the attempted coup in their possession dealt harshly with rival. With males of conflicts in the group almost does not occur.
The main task of the clan, along with hunting, is the protection of the territory. The main rivals of hyenas competing with them on the same food, are lions. So often there are conflicts between the big cats and noble small scrappy scavengers. If hyenas are attacking in large groups, they are able to knock down the lion.
Philosophers on the hyenas
Wild bloodlust spotted hyenas gave food for thought to ancient philosophers. Here only three mythsthat led people to perceive hyenas as “hell spawn”:
- Pliny the Elder, natural history expert, assured that the beast specifically simulates the human voice, luring people from their homes to eat them.
- Another philosopher of Ancient Rome, Publius Ovidius clearly argued in his “Metamorphoses” that one and the same individual hyenas are bisexual, and can turn from female to male.
- Went further thinker of Kievan Rus ‘ of Nestor the Chronicler. He wrote that the hyena, like a dog stretching out along the human body, thus measures its length as in the Procrustean bed, and then bites off the extra inches.
Horror, and more! However from all the above applies only to the voices of hyenas. Indeed, sometimes pathetic drawl, sometimes squeaky and annoying, but more often comparable with wild laughter, he recalls the hues of human emotions. These sneers at banquets with martichenko running up the lazy lions from the surrounding Savannah, with minimal labor cost to seize the prey. When the lion roars, hyena is silent.
The structure of the genital organs in females
Actually hyenas are hermaphrodites? Of course not. Like all mammals, they reproduce by mating with individuals of the opposite sex. In nature the male easily distinguishes the female from his brother. But the man is not always able to correctly determine the sex of the animal. There were even cases, when waiting for pairing, in a cage in the zoo have placed two females, including their opposite-sex individuals, and then wonder why they are instead of Congress staged fights.
The reason for the confusion of the sexes lies in the structure of the genital organs of the female. In connection with a high content of the male hormone testosterone in her blood, in the process of evolution has changed the appearance of the clitoris. It is a very long and often reaches 15-17 see Due to the elongated shape and large size of the clitoris is mistaken for a male genital organ. The illusion the mixing of the sexes reinforce tightly meshed the small lips of females, looks like a scrotum.
How not to appear terrible tales about animal is a hermaphrodite!
The mating season and offspring
The female is located, mating throughout the year, but the male is more passive. The stormy season is celebrated from may to August. In the period of the surge of hormones of a young male trying to get females their beastly ways, while remaining timid and cautious. Because spotted hyenas in a clan dominated by the lady, and she can pretty Pat suitor, if it is something not like his behavior.
The gestation period lasts 100 to 110 days. Hyena brings, as a rule, only two cubs. They are born with open eyes, with an average weight of about 1.5 kg. the Coat of the newborn is smooth and plain, without the characteristic spots that only appear after 3 months. At this age the female will begin to bring them meat, and to teach to hunt. But, nevertheless, still a year and cubs remain with the mother in the burrow. It will be about them carefully to care and protect your family from dads who will not fail to enjoy a tender meat kids, if suddenly the female gape.
The hyena, though it looks unattractive, and builds human faces with a grin, attacked him very rarely. Among many African tribes even fixed the attachment and loyalty of individuals to the two-legged master. The beast is easily tamed, responds to affection and takes out of the hands of food. And in Kenya, for example, even put on a show feeding these creatures and the participation of tourists. So, “strange gait and satanic laughter with pleasure” – only masking to the man, to show his malice and insanity.