Why Do Female Hyenas Have Pseudo-Penises?!
Female hyenas don’t have penises, but it sure looks like they do – and we still aren’t quite sure why.
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Pseudopenis: a structure that resembles a penis but is developmentally (and functionally) different
Masculinization: the process by which female genitalia is made to appear more like male genitalia
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Script Editor: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Ever Salazar (@eversalazar)
Video Director: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Narrator: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Emily Elert, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:
Spotted Hyenas Mating – Olivia Spagnuolo
Female Spotted Hyena – Kate Yoshida
Spotted Hyena Pseudopenis – Kay Holekamp
Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) – Flickr user Jean
Brown Hyena (Parahyaena brunnea) – Bernard DUPONT
Proteles cristatus – Dominik Käuferle
Squirrel monkey – Wikimedia user Megapixie
Ring tailed lemur – Wikimedia user Sannse
Fossa – Ran Kirlian
Binturong – Tassilo Rau
Cunha GR, Risbridger G, Wang H, Place NJ, Grumbach M, Cunha TJ, Weldele M, Conley AJ, Barcellos D, Agarwal S, Bhargava A, Drea C, Hammond GL, Siiteri P, Coscia EM, McPhaul MJ, Baskin LS, Glickman SE. (2014) Development of the external genitalia: perspectives from the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Differentiation. 87(1-2):4-22.
Frank LG (1997) Evolution of genital masculinization: why do female hyenas have such a large ‘penis’? Trends Ecol. Evol. 12:58-62.
Frank LG and Glickman SE (1994) Giving birth through a penile clitoris: parturition and dystocia in the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta). J. Zool. 234:659–665.
Frank LG, Weldele ML, and Glickman SE (1995) Masculinization costs in hyaenas. Nature 377:584–585.
Glickman SE, Cunha GR, Drea CM, Conley AJ and Place NJ (2006) Mammalian sexual differentiation: lessons from the spotted hyena. rends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 17 (9): 349–356.
Holekamp, KE, personal communication. August and September 2017.
Muller MN and Wrangham R (2002) Sexual Mimicry in Hyenas. The Quarterly Review of Biology 77 (1):3-16.