15 Interesting Facts About Hyenas

  1. Hyenas are carnivorous mammals. There are 4 extant species of hyenas: spotted hyena, brown hyena, striped hyena, and aardwolf. 
  2. Spotted, brown, and striped hyenas belong to the bone-crushing type of hyenas. Aardwolf is the only extant member of dog-like hyenas. 
  3. Dog-like hyenas perished around 1.5 million years ago due to climate change and competition from canids (dog-like animals) in Eurasia. But aardwolf survived the extinction thanks to its insectivorous diet. The main diet of aardwolf is termites.
  4. Three species of hyenas live exclusively in Africa. The striped hyena is the only species native to parts of Asia (Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent) along with northern and eastern Africa.
  5. Hyenas have the largest jaw pressure among land animals. Their jaws can apply 800 pounds of pressure per square inch. It is the reason that they can easily grind down hard bones. (Source)
    Jaw and skull of hyena
    Hyenas have the largest jaw pressure among land animals
  6. Hyenas have been preying on humans for around 200,000 years. Spotted hyenas killed 36 people and injured numerous others between 1955 and 1962 in Malawi. They are also known for digging up and consuming human corpses from graves. (Source)
  7. According to a hypothesis, predation by extinct cave hyenas in Siberia delayed the human colonization of Alaska. Humans could reach Alaska 13,500 years ago thanks to the domestication of dogs that saved them from hyenas and other predators. (Source)
  8. The spotted hyena is the largest species, while aardwolf is the smallest among all the extant hyena species. Unlike many other mammalsfemale spotted hyenas are larger than males. 
  9. Hyenas have better cooperative problem-solving abilities compared to chimps. In a study, spotted hyenas performed better than chimpanzees while getting food with social intelligence. (Source)
  10. The spotted hyena is the only species that mostly kill its prey. Striped and brown hyenas are primarily scavengers and rely on the carcass of big animals for their diet.
  11. Clans of spotted hyenas are dominated by female hyenas. Adult male hyenas have the lowest rank in the group. They need to leave their original clan and move to another one after maturity. (Source)
  12. A pack of hyenas can steal carcasses from the lion. Sometimes, they even kill an older lion or their cubs.
  13. Spotted hyenas can produce a sound that resembles laughter. Hyenas make these noises during social conflicts, like fighting for food. This laughing sound indicates frustration or a cry for help from the animal.
  14. Despite their resemblance to several members of the dog family (canids), hyenas are more closely related to cats. (Source)
  15. Scavenger hyenas (and jackals) know about carcasses by following vultures. For this purpose, they constantly look upward to spot the scavenger birds. (Source)


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