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The Spotted Hyena

  Alison Woliver
The Study of Animal Behavior
    Zoology 140
                              October 13, 2008
       

The spotted hyena, also known as crocuta crocuta or the laughing hyena, can be discovered within sub-Saharan Africa.   Despite the hyena’s “dog like” appearance, hyenas actually belong to a “super family” that includes cats. The physical appearance of the spotted hyena consists of light brown colored fur, with dark spots covering their backs. This is a morphological coat that allows the hyenas to blend in with their environment. The fur coat on a spotted hyena is short and very course. Spotted hyenas have a wooly undercoat with the hairs raging from 15-20 millimeters in length.   They appear to have on “masks,” for their face is darker than their body. The head of a spotted hyena is carried low in relation to their high, sturdy shoulders. Large, round ears are set high up on the sides of the head. Spotted hyenas have huge and powerful jaw muscles, a thick neck, short but wide muzzle, with a rounded skull and oblique eyes. They have a hunched back because their front legs are longer than their back legs. Their body is proportionally round and large, with thin legs. Spotted hyenas have a tail that is short in relation to its body. Sexual dimorphism is very prominent, with the female spotted hyena’s being noticeably larger than the male. The average weight of a male spotted hyena is 10kg lighter than the females. The males weight ranges from 45 kg while the females weight can exceed 55kg.   Female hyenas have an excess of testosterone in their bodies, causing them to be masculinized. As a result of this masculinization, the female hyena’s are a third larger than the males, have greater muscle mass, are more aggressive, and have masculinized genetalia. The female hyena appears to look like a male hyena, for their vulva is fused to look like a scrotum and testicles. The female hyena’s clitoris is large and it looks similar to...

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