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The brown hyaena

20 March 2014

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The brown hyaena Hyaena brunnea developed in South Africa and moved north. However, it is replaced ecologically by the striped hyaena Hyaena hyaena in north-eastern Africa. It is known by several common names, especially in Afrikaans. Despite their dog-like appearance all hyaenas have developed from a civet-like ancestor as has the cats. Some 60 species of hyaena are known, some that date back to 11 to 7 million years ago, while fossil brown hyaenas lived during the mid-Pleistocene Period some 1.5 million years ago. At least 24 species of hyaena once concurrently roamed Eurasia and Africa. Today only four species exist.

The brown hyaena has been known as Hyaena brunnea ever since being described scientifically as such by Thunberg in 1820 based on a stuffed specimen in Cape Town (Western Cape province). No subspecies are recognized and in its range of distribution it is restricted to southern Africa. The genus Hyaena was coined in 1762 by Brisson after... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

References:

Mills, M G L 1990. Kalahari hyaenas. London: Unwin.

Skinner, J D and C T Chimimba (Eds) 2005. The mammals of the southern African subregion, third edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 365 - 370.

Article by Prof J du P Bothma

 

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