Despite all the negative stories about hyena, the spotted hyena has very interesting genitalia.
The physical appearance of the female spotted hyena genitalia is one of its kind. If you are lucky to see between a female spotted hyena back legs, you will find a thick phallic structure complete with false scrotum and testis.
Their clitoris is shaped like a penis and labia fused to form pseudoscrotum. The clitoris is enormously elongated to form a fully erectile pseudopenis. It is the only knows female mammal with no external vaginal opening. So unique that people have for a long time assumed spotted hyenas are hermaphrodite.
So what is this peculiar genitalia all about? Nobody, apart from maybe the spotted hyenas, who really seem to fully understand. It is however clear that it helps in recognizing clan members during the “greeting ceremony” where they stand side-by-side, head-to-tail sniffing each other’s erected phallus.
It is also urged that this unique reproductive tract gives the female lots of control over the father of her offspring. Mating is a laborious task for the male and the female have to be fully in consent. Strangely, the bladder also empties into the same channel thus it is practically possible for the female to ‘flush’ the inserted sperms if need be.
Mating, urination and even giving birth is through the pseudopenis (clitoris). Imagine giving birth to a one and half kilograms cub through the clit. The cubs are the largest carnivore young relative to their mothers’ weight. During parturition, the clitoris ruptures in order to facilitate passage and may take weeks to heal.
The cubs are born with eyes open and erupted teeth.
Siblicide (killing among siblings) is common with up to 25% death occurring within the first month.
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