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African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), photographed at the Bronx Zoo. African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) don’t have it easy. Their taste for large mammalian prey puts them in competition with lions and spotted hyenas for both prey and living space, meaning that wild dogs regularly have their kills stolen or are even killed by other…

Breaking down a hyena kill. Given competition with other carnivores, prehistoric hyenas (like their living counterparts) would probably have disarticulated and transported parts of horses they killed. From Diedrich 2010. In Hollywood films, there is nothing like an assemblage of bones strewn about a cave floor to testify to the power and voraciousness of a…

An African wild dog (Lycaon pictus, left) compared to a spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta, right). Both photographed at the Bronx Zoo. It never fails. Whenever I visit a zoo’s African wild dog exhibit someone inevitably asks “Are those hyenas?”, and when I visit spotted hyena enclosures I often hear the question “Are those dogs?” These…

A spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.

Spotted hyenas giggling over an antelope spine. Courtesy BMC Ecology. For spotted hyenas, a laugh can speak volumes about an individual. Despite being portrayed as stupid scavengers who rely on the leftovers of lion prides, hyenas are highly intelligent and social predators. They communicate with each other through an array of whoops, yowls, grunts, screams,…