Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:July 2016
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An African carnivore belonging to the family Hyaenidae. The family Hyaenidae (order Carnivora) comprises three species of hyenas (also spelled hyaenas): one species in the genus Crocuta (see illustration) and two species in the genus Hyaena. 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, they are more closely related to the felids (cats). All three hyena species 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, they can crush bone. See also: Carnivora; Dentition; Tooth
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