• Question: Why do female hyenas have penises?

    Asked by waricck to Vera on 14 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Vera Weisbecker

      Vera Weisbecker answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      Yeah, that is one crazy thing about hyaenas hey? Spotted hyaenas even give birth through this “penis” and often die as a result of the injuries involved in getting the baby out. Last time I read about this, the reason was that hyaenas have a very aggressive social life and need a lot of testosterone to survive and reproduce (in fact, even hyaena babies are full of testosterone and try to kill each other). As testosterone is also involved with the formation of male genitals, this hyper-testosterone life leads to even the girls developing penises.