chapter  5
Coursing Hyenas and Hungry Dogs
ByDonna Hart, Robert W. Sussman
Pages 22

Hyenas are scorned by indigenous cultures wherever they occur, often representing despicable characters in myth and folklore. After the work of field researchers in the 1970s and 1980s, the old myths of cowardly, skulking hyenas waiting to steal kills from noble predators, hopefully, have been vanquished. Hyenas are nocturnal hunters whose prey are usually fast and large—zebras, wildebeest, or antelope—but anything is on the hyena bill of fare, including human corpses. Tribal peoples are not the only ones to employ hyenas as a cleanup crew. One arm of hyena adaptation seemed to produce fast animals—the coursing type. Some of the high spots from this line included the cursorial hunting hyena, Euryboas. Historical records in Malawi showed that similar bouts of hyena fixation on human prey have occurred many times before. Just like the cats and hyenas, the dog family also tried out extra, extra large species, such as Aelurodon, the bone-crushing dog.