hyenas, terrifying and excellently organized predators of the savannah
also surprisingly docile and like neck scritches and have a tail chasing compulsion
if you don’t think hyenas are great then you’re objectively wrong
Aaaahhh, I love hyenas. :D
Hyenas: Always getting a bad rap because lions are jerks. Lions actually steal from hyenas most of the time because hyenas are the better predators — but they’re also very skittish when faced with a giant pride of cats. Adorable babies!
Okay, lemme tell you about spotted hyenas, aka the BAMFiest BAMFs in the animal kingdom.
- Their societies are entirely female-dominated. Female hyenas are larger and stronger than males and have higher social status in clan hierarchy - even the lowest-ranking female in a hyena clan is higher up the social ladder than the highest-ranking male. They’re basically the Amazons of the animal world. The females even have false penis-like appendages (which are essentially large clitorises), which led the ancient Greeks to think that hyenas were hermaphrodites. Because fuck your narrow human perceptions of sex and gender roles, that’s why.
- They are considered the dominant predators of the African savannah, despite not being the largest or strongest, because they are the most successful hunters. Their hunting success rate is estimated to be about 70-80%, meaning that they catch about 70-80% of prey they pursue - a freakishly high statistic (to compare, the success rate of lions and wolves is about 20-30%). They also scavenge much less than lions do, as whowasntthere said, and are incredibly adaptable and opportunistic predators, meaning that they are also the most common and widespread of the large African carnivores. That’s not too bad for an animal typecast as a lazy scavenger.
- Their jaws are some of the strongest in the animal kingdom, stronger than those of lions, tigers, wolves or perhaps bears, and can crush elephant and giraffe bones; hyenas are also able to digest all bone matter. Don’t tell me that’s not metal as fuck.
- Despite looking like dogs, they are not part of the dog family and are actually more closely related to cats. Because fuck your logic. Nature does what it wants.
- They are incredibly intelligent. They are easily as intelligent as primates and some scientists claim that their intelligence may even rival that of the great apes, which would make them among the most intelligent animals in the world. Hyenas even outperform chimpanzees on some tests, which is pretty damn awesome, considering that chimpanzees are our closest relatives and all.
So yeah, basically hyenas are awesome and badass as well as truly fascinating animals and if you don’t have at least a bit of respect for them you’re wrong.
OH MAN HYENAS. (Mention hyena genitalia and it summons me, brimming with uncontrolled glee.)
OKAY SO. Hyenas. The clitoris of the female hyena is extremely large—the same size as the hyena penis, as a matter of fact. The labia are fused into a scrotum-like structure at the base.
In most mammals, the clitoris doesn’t have anything except nerves in it. Not so with the spotted hyena! Like a penis, the urinary tract is routed through it—they pee out their clitoris—and also the birth canal & vagina. If that sounds foreboding to you, you are so, so right—more on that later. When a hyena is having sex, she—I am straight-up quoting scientific literature here, the world is beautiful—rolls her clitoris up inside her “like a sock.” This makes hyena sex very awkward, and also hilarious, and most males take a while before they get it down, because seriously:
SO. Vagina runs through the clitoris. How do they give birth? WELL. They literally tear a hole in the clitoris the first time they give birth, splitting it in half. Exciting!
It kind of sucks in a lot of ways, because:
- It turns out that a gaping wound in your genitalia is a great source of infection
- It turns out that getting pushed through your mom’s flesh isn’t great for babies
- It also turns out that, to run through the clitoris, the birth canal is longer than the umbilical cords, so the umbilicus breaks before babies are born, and they suffocate inside the mom pretty often.
SO WHY DO HYENAS HAVE SUCH BIG CLITORISES?
Interesting question! Evolutionarily speaking, anything that detrimental should never evolve. And it turns out that it’s complicated.
Originally, they thought it was hormonal. The theory went that female hyenas had really, really high testosterone, part of why they were so aggressive. Hyena mothers bathed their offspring in that testosterone when they were developing, leading to penis-like genitalia. It is true that when you expose, for example, dogs to really high testosterone when they’re in utero, females end up with penis-like genitalia.
There are two main flaws to that theory.
- Hyena clitoris development isn’t controlled by hormones/testosterone—it’s genetic. When pregnant female hyenas were given androgen blockers, making testosterone levels plummet for both them and the pups, the female cubs still developed a penis.
- The real kicker? It turns out that female hyenas don’t actually have high testosterone. They do get occasional spikes, up to 10x the average male level, but in average, male hyenas have about two times as much testosterone as female.
So it’s not hormones! Cue behavioral theories.
Theory one: mate choice. Female hyenas have to allow males to penetrate them—there’s no chance of it happening without full female involvement, because it’s not so much like a lock and a key so much as a key and another key that turns inside-out. And involves the male at a 90 degree angle to the female when he mounts. This is not a great theory! Why? Because out of all the species of hyenas, the ONLY species with this genital configuration is spotted hyenas. But the other species, where technically forced mating could happen, it doesn’t. Females still get to pick and choose. Forced copulation is not a major evolutionary pressure for hyenas.
The other main hypotheses hinge on the fact that, in hyenas, an erection is a sign of submission. Both males and females can erect their genitalia at will. (Note: I almost—but not quite—googled “submissive penis display” when working on this project. Ponder that.) Male hyenas and female hyenas low in the pecking order show off erect dick/clit to reduce aggression. It’s like a dog rolling on his back when he’s lost a fight, only more—you know, more penis involved. It makes a certain amount of sense—if I had a clitoris that made up a full 1% of my body weight, I really wouldn’t be fighting if a hyena had her mouth by it. (1% sounds small until you realize that, using me as an example, that would mean almost 2 pounds of clitoris.)
Theory number 2 is that it makes females look more male, which makes them safer. Hyenas often form large packs that have to break up when food is scarcer, like in a drought. Males can wander freely through the territories, because all males do leave their place of birth and assimilate into other packs. Females? They don’t do that. A lone female passing through another pack’s territory will get attacked. So the hypothesis goes, give a female a clitoris that looks like a penis, maybe another pack won’t realize she’s not male and let her pass through unharmed.
Annnnd that one’s also not exactly holding water, either. Because
- Female and male hyenas have REALLY different silhouettes. While they’re about the same length and height, females are heavier, bulkier, and shaped differently. Not to mention the sense of smell they have. Sticking something penis-shaped on isn’t going to fool any hyena out there.
- Female hyena genitalia doesn’t look at all like a penis after they’ve given birth. The clitoris splits, there’s a hole (healed over now) where the babies came out—a sort of diy-vagina—etc. Any hyena passing through will only pass as male if she’s never given birth, even ignoring the silhouette issue.
- It’s pretty much useless as a way of disguising them as male. Yeah, bad hypothesis.
Theory 3 works a little bit better. Basically, it’s a way to reduce social aggression. Having a clear, obvious way to say “I give up” makes things safer for everyone involved. Less biting, social hierarchy still really clear, etc.! Hurrah, good job all round. Basically, males are submissive, leading to erect penises being submissive. But a lot of females are also submissive, and need a way to reduce that aggression as well—cue more and more penis-like genitalia being selected for. Because hyenas are really efficient, brutal predators, fights can be seriously bad—but bad enough to make up for around 1/3 of first litters dying in the womb, often killing the mother, too?
Not really! Because that’s a hell of a selection pressure. Whiiiich leads to 3.5!
Female and male hyena genitalia is most identical in the first few months after they’re born. During this time, they live in a den, not leaving at all, and accessed EXCLUSIVELY by the mother. Annnnd for the most part, we had no idea what went on in the dens. Because it turns out that a) if you disturb a den the female takes her cubs and leaves, and b) hyenas get really really upset when you’re near their babies. Think a mama bear, with jaws designed to crunch up everything up to and including dry bones.
Eventually, some people got night-vision cameras in a den, and what they realized is that a hell of a lot of hyenas commit siblicide—that is, kill their brother or sister—before they ever leave the den. In fact, it’s the time when they’re MOST likely to kill a sibling. AND, even more interesting, same-sex siblings (almost always in pairs, litters of 3 are unusual) are a lot more likely to kill each other. And sisters are more likely to kill each other than brothers. SO, combine that with the fact that their sex is most indistinguishable when they’re in the den? It’s probably a way to reduce siblicide—which would be a VERY potent selective force, and is the best current hypothesis as to why hyenas have such big clitorises, especially in conjunction with the general lowering of aggression between adults.
Video Game Challenge → [1/?] Friendships
✗ Isabela and Aveline (Dragon Age)"I’m the captain of the guard. I’m loyal, strong, and I don’t look too bad naked."
"Exactly. And if I called you a mannish, awkward, ball-crushing do-gooder, you’d say?"
"Shut up, whore."
"That’s my girl."
Looking for an epic run? Here's a mix of soundtrack music and cinematic-sounding songs with good beats!
"are you going to finish this trilogy ever" a reviewer asks
NOT ANYMORE!!!! I say
this sounds like an onion article but my conservative classmate actually posted it on facebook
watching people attempt to defend whitewashing on my dash and just being like…”shhhh. just…just stop. stop now.”
tropes I wish I saw more of in fics
Actually, most of the fic I read is gen (and Loki gen, for that matter). Here is a selection of recommendations pulled from my bookmarks, without commentary because I am lazy as shit and should probably be sleeping now anyway. Fair warning that a lot of it is heart-wrenching cause that’s how I roll.
If you’re into reading something from comics!verse I am very fond of
And then there are fics in progress that I am following and enjoying so far; of those I’d add to this list Drown by Ordis and Disengage by TheGreatCatsby. (Most of the other fics I’m following are not gen.)
so tonight my sister and I watched like the first five episodes of american horror story and i’m…really…into it…..