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The Brown Hyena

Scientific name: Hyaena brunnea or Parahyaena brunnea

Brown hyenas really are brown with whitish manes and very long, shaggy hair (especially compared to spotted hyenas). They're also smaller.

Scientists have changed their mind about how they're related to striped and spotted hyenas over the years. Lars Werdelin thought that they were most closely related to spotted hyenas based on some details of their skulls and skeletons, but in 2006 a molecular phylogeny study showed that they are closely related to striped hyenas.

Differences between brown and spotted hyenas:

Similarities between brown and spotted hyenas:

Spotted hyenas dominate brown hyenas. If they catch a brown hyena alone, they may harass it, sometimes to the point that blood is drawn. But brown hyenas may harass a lone spotted hyena at a kill, and may be able to make it leave sooner than it intended.

Most of what brown hyenas eat is carrion, and they depend on other large carnivores that hunt for survival. But they also hunt small mammals and birds if they see opportunities. They even eat vegetables and fruits, such as the Hottentot melon.

During a study in the Kalahari desert, all the cubs were eventually moved to a communal den of tunnels dug in the sand. The adults were observed to leave the young alone for hours at a time, while the older cubs were responsible for the younger ones. All dashed into their dens at the sight of a possible danger. If a mother died, other females were seen to adopt her cubs (something spotted hyenas don't do).

Brown hyenas are endangered, mostly because of overhunting, due to the fact that ranchers think they kill livestock. In fact, this has never been observed.

They live in arid places, such as the Kalahari desert. Their range is limited to the southern part of Africa, although fossils show they once had a wider range. They are a very old species, dating back to the Pliocene, when they even roamed southwest Europe.

Some sources I used for this page:

(Last link check May 5, 2022.)

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