The spotted hyena is the most famous representative of the Hyaenidae family.
The hyena is an animal of the Hyaenidae family, native to Africa and Asia. The most famous representative of this family is probably the spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena, which is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. The animals of the Hyaenidae family at one point extended as far as North America, with great diversity among species, but their range and diversity has greatly declined since their heyday over a million years ago, in part due to competition with canids. .
Hyenas are native to Africa and Asia and can live alone or in large groups.
Hyenas have a very canine appearance, despite being actually more closely related to cats. They have distinctive short hind limbs that give their bodies a slanted appearance and very strong jaws that can be used to break large bones or grab the throats of prey. The hyena’s hair is thick and sandy to brown in color, with many species having stripes or patches of camouflage, and some having ruffles of thicker hair around the neck.
Hyenas have been known to prey on humans and kill small children.
These animals can live alone or in large groups of related individuals. Hyena society is matriarchal in nature, with women being particularly famous for their unusually enlarged and bulging urogenital tracts, which make them look like males on the surface. There is very little sexual dimorphism in hyenas and it can be difficult to distinguish males and females from a distance unless one is observing a group of animals for an extended period of time, which provides opportunities to see males and females behaving differently.
Most hyenas are scavengers and can compete for new kills with other carnivores in their habitat, including lions, in addition to eating the carrion they find. Like other scavengers, hyenas have a very high tolerance for spoiled food and a very diverse diet that allows the animals to adapt to available food sources. Hyenas also drop live prey, working cooperatively as a group to select a target. They are also known to attack humans and take small children.
Historically, hyenas have been viewed with some suspicion. The manic laughter characteristic of the spotted hyena is quite frightening and disturbing to many Europeans when they first encountered the animals, and some people associated hyenas with bad luck or sorcery because they raided graves in search of food. Other myths suggested that animals could mimic human voices to lure people away from the safety of a fire, marking targets for death by calling their names.