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Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-03-27
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon 400mm 2.8 IS
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): CeltickRanger's favorite African animal photos [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-06-15 7:44
Viewed: 5704
Points: 42
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this on my recent visit to South Africa. We stayed with this Spotted Hyena for some time.

Hyenas seem to have originated 22 million years ago from arboreal ancestors bearing similarities to the modern Banded Palm Civet. Plioviverrops, one of the earliest hyenas, was a lithe civet-like creature that inhabited Eurasia 20-22 million years ago. Details from the middle ear and dental structure marked it as a primitive hyena. This genus proved successful, its descendants flourishing with more pointed jowels and racier legs, much as the Canidae had done in North America. Fifteen million years ago, dog-like hyenas flourished, with 30 different species being identified. Unlike some of their modern descendants, these hyenas were not specialized bone-crushers, but were more nimble, wolf-like animals. The dog-like hyenas had canid-like molars, allowing them to supplement their carnivorous diet with vegetation and invertebrates.

Five to seven million years ago, the dog-like hyenas were outcompeted by canids traveling from North America to Eurasia via the Bering land bridge. The ancestral aardwolves survived by having adapted themselves to an insectivorous diet to which few canids had specialized. Some hyenas began evolving bone crushing teeth in order to avoid competing with the canids, resulting in the hyenas eventually outcompeting a family of similarly built bone crushers called "percrocutoids". The percrocutoids became extinct 7 million years ago, coinciding exactly with the rise of bone crushing hyena species. Unlike the canids who flourished in the newly colonized Eurasian continent, only one hyena species, the cheetah-like Chasmaporthetes managed to cross to North America. It went extinct 1.5 million years ago.

The peak diversity of the Hyenidae was during the Pleistocene, with 4 genera and 9 species of hyena. The bone crushing hyenas became the Old World's dominant scavengers, managing to take advantage of the amount of meat left over from the kills of sabre-toothed cats. One such species was Pachycrocuta, a up 200 kg (440 lb) mega-scavenger that could crush elephant bones. As the sabre-toothed cats began to die out and be replaced by short-fanged felids which were more efficient eaters, more hyenas began to hunt for themselves and began evolving into new species, the modern spotted hyena being among them.

The majority of hyena species show little sexual dimorphism, usually with males being only slightly larger than the females. The spotted hyena is an exception to this as females are larger than the males. One unusual feature of the spotted hyena is that females have an enlarged clitoris called a pseudo-penis, demi-penis or sometimes mistakenly referred to as a nanophallus. Female hyenas give birth, copulate, and urinate through their protruding genitalia, which stretches to allow the male penis to enter for copulation, and it also stretches during birth. The anatomical position of the genitalia gives females total sexual control over who is allowed to mate with them. Researchers originally thought that one cause of this characteristic of the genitals was androgens that were introduced to the fetus very early on in its development. However, it was discovered that when the androgens were held back from the fetus, the development of the female genitalia was not altered.

All species excrete an oily, yellow substance from their anal glands onto objects to mark their territories. When scent marking, the anal pouch is turned inside out, or everted. Hyenas also do this as a submissive posture to more dominant hyenas. Genitals, the anal area, and the anal glands are sniffed during greeting ceremonies in which each hyena lifts its leg and allows the other to sniff its anal sacks and genitals. All four species maintain latrines far from the main denning area where dung is deposited. Scent marking is also done by scraping the ground with the paws, which deposits scent from glands on the bottoms of the feet. Hyenas do not raise their legs when urinating as male or dominant canids do.

Unlike the canids, hyenas do not regurgitate or carry back food for their young[, due to the speed with which the food is digested.

uleko, boreocypriensis, nglen, bahadir, jaycee, Dis. Ac., haraprasan, Royaldevon, gracious, CeltickRanger, rcrick, eqshannon, LordPotty, Argus has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-06-15 8:03]

Hello James,
Nice to see you as a neighbour and with a very fine close capture of a yawning(?) Hyeana. I'm glad it is not covered by blood!!
Great sharpness and beautiful colours of an animal I rather like!! Well composed too.
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

Hi My dear friend James, a cute capture of this spotted hyaena my friend! I think you captured it while he was making supineness:). Great portrait my friend! TFS.


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-06-15 8:32]

Hello James,
Beautiful photo of this Spotted Hyena. You came very close. Excellent sharpness and details and great natural colours. Good composition and POV.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-06-15 9:04]

Hi James. I must say i do find your notes interesting. This is such a powerful animal .You have captured a good pose with the animal yawning , good detail and colours. TFS.

Superb capture James. TFS. Regards,

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-06-15 9:53]

Hi James,

Shame on you for disturbing his nap! Great shot of this Hyena caught in the act of yawning. His mouth looks like he could use some dental work. I love the way his eyes close as he yawns. Excellent details of his face, coat, and leg. The colors and the natural setting are wonderful.


Hi James,
A nice capture of this beautiful spotted hyena. A nice yawning portrait to show somebody who is having insomnia. Excellent composition and sharp details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hello James,

Very good capture from these Hyaena.
Exellent pov and colors.


Hi James,
Looks like the Hyena got a bit tired from your visit. Or, is it a sign that he got used to your company. Anyway, the moment is soemthing not seen often and shows a different behaviour of this dangerous animal. I like the OOF twigs in the FG giving it a sense of seclution.

Hello James,
Sharp portrait of the Spotted hyena..sorry Yawning hyena:-)
Well done

Hello James,

You have such a wide experience of wild life! I am amazed at the animals you share with us!

The details of this hyena's coat very clearly show the colour changes and patterns, so important for its camourflage.
Lovely composition with plenty of space for that enormous yawn!

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

Hello James,
Great shot with perfect moment to capture this yawning Hyenas with close eyes, cute!
the image is real sharp with good colour and details
many thanks for the informative notes too
take care and my regards

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-06-15 14:02]

Hi James,
great capture of this yawning Hyena showing those super-powerful jaws :-)
Excellent quality.
Very, very good technically.

Superb work!!


Hey James,

What an awesome shot of this spotted hyena, the detail is just excellent, that narrow d.o.f has isolated it perfectly, love the POV and those markings are stunning, really nice work, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

You have this OCD thing.....you get a notion to travel to some place nobody would think to do and go take images...I wish I had won that guitar!:-) Looong story./..

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-06-15 21:44]

Hello James

A unique pov of this hyena.You must have been fairly close.
The details and colours show well.
It looks like you caught him in a tired moment.
Lovely natural colours.


Fabulous! Great subject - wonderful timing. Sharp and technically perfect as usual. But its the subject matter that I love the most.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-06-16 5:38]

Hello James, Very nice shot of this little fella yawning. I am sure he is signalling that too tired. You have captured it very well. Ganesh

Wonderful shot of this Hyena James.
Very nice colour and detail.
It makes me think of our old friend Gerhardt.
He often used to post shots like this.
This one is great.

hello James

superb close shot of this Hyena, with fine POV, DOF and framing,
excellent luminosity of the image and great sharpness and details,



Hello James,
Very nice presentation, the Hyena looks very lazy. The picture is very well composed and very
sharp, great POV and luminosity... Well done


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-06-17 5:06]

Hello James,
Excellent capture of a young Hyena yawning in a nice composition showing its front half in the grass from a pleasing lateral POV.
TFS this delight,

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