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Hyenas or hyaenas (from Greek “ὕαινα” – hýaina) are the animals of the household Hyaenidae /haɪˈɛnɨdiː/ of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. With solely 4 species, it’s the fourth-smallest organic household within the Carnivora, and one of many smallest within the class Mammalia. Despite their low range, hyenas are distinctive and important parts to most African and a few Asian ecosystems.
Although phylogenetically near felines and viverrids, hyenas are behaviourally and morphologically much like canines in a number of features; each hyenas and canines are nonarboreal, cursorial hunters that catch prey with their enamel fairly than claws. Both eat meals rapidly and should retailer it, and their calloused ft with massive, blunt, nonretractable nails are tailored for operating and making sharp turns. However, the hyenas’ grooming, scent marking, defecating habits, mating, and parental behaviour are per the behaviour of different feliforms. Although lengthy reputed to be cowardly scavengers, hyenas, particularly noticed hyenas, kill as a lot as 95% of the meals they eat, and have been identified to drive off leopards or lionesses from their kills. Hyenas are primarily nocturnal animals, however could enterprise from their lairs within the early-morning hours. With the exception of the extremely social noticed hyena, hyenas are usually not gregarious animals, although they might dwell in household teams and congregate at kills.
Hyenas first arose in Eurasia in the course of the Miocene interval from viverrid-like ancestors, and developed into two distinct branches; the calmly constructed dog-like hyenas and the sturdy bone-crushing hyenas. Although the dog-like hyenas thrived 15 million years in the past (with one taxon having colonised North America), they died out after a change in local weather together with the arrival of canids into Eurasia. Of the dog-like hyena lineage, solely the insectivorous aardwolf survived, whereas the bone-crushing hyenas (whose extant members are the noticed, brown and striped hyenas) turned the undisputed prime scavengers of Eurasia and Africa.
Hyenas function prominently within the folklore and mythology of human cultures with which they’re sympatric. Hyenas are principally seen with worry and contempt, in addition to being related to witchcraft, as their physique elements are used as substances in conventional medication. Among the beliefs held by some cultures, hyenas are thought to affect folks’s spirits, rob graves, and steal livestock and youngsters.