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Scientific classification
Family:Hyaenidae (Hyaenas)
Genera and Species
Subfamily Hyaeninae[?]
   crocuta[?] - spotted hyaena[?]
   hyaena[?] - striped hyaena[?]
   brunnea[?] - brown hyaena[?]
Subfamily Protelinae[?]
   cristatus - aardwolf
Hyenas are not, as is commonly thought, closely related to dogs (they're more closely related to cats). Their closest living cousins are the Herpestidae, such as mongooses and meerkats. In ancient times large hyenas ranged over much of Europe and Asia.

Table of contents

Extant Hyena Species

Spotted Hyena[?] (Crocuta[?] crocuta)

The largest and most well known member of the hyena family, the spotted hyena is primarily a predator, not a scavenger as is commonly through. They have been clocked at over 55 kilometres per hour, and when hunting in packs are capable of taking down the largest of prey. Spotted Hyenas have such strong jaws and teeth that they devour even the bones of their kill. This, combined with their very strong stomach acid, results in them having crusty white droppings (from all the bone meal).

Spotted Hyenas live in the savannas and deserts of Africa, in clans numbering 40 individuals on average - and as large as 100. Female spotted hyenas are much larger than their male counterparts, and have long, dangling, penis-like clitorises. While spotted hyenas have no real predators (besides man), they are on occasion killed by lions (which detest hyenas).

Brown Hyena[?] (Parahyaena brunnea)

(Formerly Hyaena brunnea)

The brown hyena lives mainly in the Kalahari and Namib deserts of southern Africa. They are smaller than their spotted cousins, and unlike them they are largely scavengers[?]. They are, in fact, the largest land animal which makes up the majority of its diet from scavenging. Because of the scarcity of food in the desert, they supplement their diet with fruit and vegetables.

Also unlike the spotted hyena, the males and females of this species are practically indistinguishable. Their clans are also smaller, ranging between 4 to 15 members. Besides man, brown hyenas are commonly killed by lions and spotted hyenas.

Striped Hyena[?] (Hyaena hyaena)

Striped hyenas are closely related to brown hyenas, but live in northern Africa, the Middle East, and western India. Like their brown cousins, striped hyenas are largely scavengers, and will also eat fruit and even insects.

Aardwolf (Proteles[?] cristatus)

The aardwolf is a small hyena that feeds exclusively on termites. It has become so specialized for this diet that its teeth have shrunken to near insignificance. Unlike other large insect eating mammals like aardvarks and anteaters, aardwolves can't dig, and so have to wait outside the termite mound to lick up the termites when they come out. An aardwolf can lick up over 30 000 termites in a single day.

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