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hyena

hyena (hī-ē´nə), carnivorous, chiefly nocturnal mammal of the Old World family Hyaenidae. Although doglike in appearance, hyenas are more closely related to civets (family Viverridae) and cats (family Felidae) than to dogs (family Canidae). The front legs of a hyena are longer than the hind ones, giving the back a sloping appearance. Despite their reputation as scavengers, hyenas are also skillful hunters; they can crush bones with their strong teeth and jaws. They sleep by day, in caves or burrows. Hyenas range over most of Africa and SW Asia. Three species are generally recognized. The spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta, of Africa S of the Sahara, is the largest and boldest species; it stands 21/2 ft (76 cm) high at the shoulder and has a gray coat with irregular patches. It is also known as the laughing hyena, because of its cry, which resembles maniacal laughter. Often abroad in the day as well as at night, it pursues game in packs and even invades camps and villages in search of food. The females are dominant and more aggressive, outranking the males in the pack. The smaller striped hyena, Hyaena hyaena, of Asia and N Africa and the brown hyena, or strand wolf, H. brunnea, of S Africa are shyer and more nocturnal and solitary in their habits. The former is grayish brown with darker stripes; the latter is dark brown over most of the body. The aardwolf is the fourth member of the hyena family. Hyenas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Hyaenidae.

See H. Kruuk, The Spotted Hyena (1972); J. L. Gittleman, ed., Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution (1989).

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hyena

hyena sometimes taken as a type of contemptible and repellent creature. The expression laugh like a hyena, which has become proverbial, refers to the animal's characteristic cry.

Recorded from Middle English, the word comes via Latin from Greek huaina, feminine of hus ‘pig’; the transference of the term probably being because the animal's mane was thought to resemble a hog's bristles.

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hyena

hy·e·na / hīˈēnə/ (Brit. hyaena) • n. a doglike African mammal (genera Hyaena and Crocuta, family Hyaenidae) with an erect mane and forelimbs that are longer than the hind limbs. Hyenas are noted as scavengers but most are also effective hunters.

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hyena

hyena Predatory and scavenging carnivore native to Africa and s Asia. The spotted or laughing hyena (Crocuta crocuta) of the sub-Sahara is the largest. Other species include the brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) of s Africa. Weight: 27–80kg (60–176lb). Family Hyaenidae.

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Hyena

Hyena

A fabled many-colored stone taken from the eye of the animal so called. Put under the tongue, the hyena stone was said to enable its possessor to foretell future events. It was also supposed to cure gout and intermittent fever.

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Hyaenidae

Hyaenidae See CARNIVORA.

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hyena

hyena See HYAENIDAE.

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hyena

hyenaabstainer, arcana, campaigner, Cana, caner, cantilena, complainer, container, detainer, drainer, entertainer, explainer, Gaenor, gainer, Gaynor, grainer, Jena, Lena, maintainer, Marlene, N'Djamena, obtainer, ordainer, planar, planer, profaner, Rayner, retainer, scena, seiner, Sinn Feiner, strainer, sustainer, trainer, uniplanar •straightener •Adelina, Angelina, arena, Argentina, ballerina, Ballymena, Bettina, Bukovina, Burkina, cantina, Cartagena, casuarina, catena, Christina, cleaner, concertina, congener, contravener, convener, Cortina, demeanour (US demeanor), deus ex machina, duodena, Edwina, Ena, farina, Filipina, galena, Georgina, Gina, gleaner, hyena, Ina, intervener, kachina, kina, Magdalena, marina, Martina, Medina, Messalina, Messina, misdemeanour (US misdemeanor), Nina, novena, ocarina, Palestrina, Pasadena, Philomena, piscina, retsina, Rowena, Sabrina, scarlatina, screener, Selina, semolina, Seraphina, Serena, Sheena, signorina, sonatina, subpoena, Taormina, tsarina, verbena, vina, weaner, wiener, Wilhelmina, Zena •sweetener • pipecleaner

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