Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:September 2021
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An African carnivore belonging to the family Hyaenidae. The mammalian family Hyaenidae (order Carnivora) comprises three species of hyenas (also spelled hyaenas): one species (spotted hyena) in the genus Crocuta (see illustration), one species (striped hyena) in the genus Hyaena, and one species (brown hyena) in the genus Parahyaena. In addition, the aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is included in the family Hyaenidae. Hyena adults are more than 1.2 m (4 ft) in height and almost 1.5 m (5 ft) in length, and they may weigh up to 75 kg (165 lb). Although they resemble dogs superficially, hyenas are more closely related to felids (cats). Hyenas are adapted for feeding on carrion, having well-developed foreparts, reduced hindquarters, a rounded head, and short strong jaws. The 34 teeth (dental formula of I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 4/3, M 1/1 × 2) are extremely strong; together with the powerful jaw muscles, the teeth can crush bone. See also: Carnivora; Dentition; Mammalia; Tooth
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