Hyena Myths Busted: Are They Really Hermaphrodites?
If ever an animal needed rebranding, it’s the hyena—a strong, smart animal that's often misunderstood.
Ugly. Villainous. Thieving. The insults leveled at hyenas are so nasty you’d think they were running for office.
These predators, inhabitants of Africa and Asia, have been maligned for centuries as grave robbers, witches' steeds, and even "were-hyenas," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Hyaena Specialist Group.
In hopes of clearing up some modern misconceptions, Weird Animal Question of the Week took the author’s prerogative to ask, “What are common myths—and truths—about hyenas?” (Read more about misjudged hyenas in National Geographic magazine.)
Not only that, the animals experiment with a variety of ways to get the job done, which suggests innovative thinking, Sarah Benson-Amram, a zoologist at the University of Wyoming and study co-author, says by email.
They can also count. Sort of.
The carnivores also form coalitions and strong bonds with their kin,