JAN 08, 2018 8:04 PM PST

Female Hyenas Disguise Their Genitalia to Accept or Reject Mates

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


Both female and male hyenas have nearly identical-looking genitalia, but only because females disguise their sex organs as penises until they find a suitable mate. This disguise is known as a pseudo-penis; in fact, her fused labia look just like a scrotum to complete the look.

Female hyenas can invert their pseudo-penises at any time to let males take care of business, but this decision is made entirely at her discretion. Conversely, she can reject any male by refusing to invert her pseudo-penis when he approaches her

Although convenient for mate selection, the pseudo-penis can make giving birth more challenging. Many times, the mother or cub doesn't survive if it's the mother's first attempt at birth. The narrow passage sometimes asphyxiates the cub, or related injuries spell out the end for the mother before she finishes.

Given all the commotion, why don't female hyenas have vaginas like countless other mammals? The answer comes down to evolution. Female hyenas dominate their male counterparts and become aggressive toward other females. This development makes distinguishment more difficult and reduces conflict in the process, which seems advantageous in the wild.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 29, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 29, 2020
Meet the World's Smallest Cat
When it comes to wild cats, much of the spotlight gets put on nature’s largest and most fearsome, such as the lion ...
MAR 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 30, 2020
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
The Big Bang purportedly transpired 13.8 billion years ago, and even so, the universe continues to expand even today. Bu ...
APR 08, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 08, 2020
The Future of Battery in a Rear View Mirror
Currently electrochemical batteries is the front and center of energy storage, but their production often put a gre ...
APR 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 13, 2020
Here's Why Humans Need Spacesuits When Exploring Other Earth-Like Worlds
At one point, the idea of colonizing another planet was merely science fiction. But as technology evolves and space agen ...
MAY 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 04, 2020
The Science Behind Brown Dwarfs
Outer space is chock-full of stars and planets orbiting them, but there’s a fine line between what makes a star a ...
MAY 15, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 15, 2020
Fixing the Ozone Layer Resulted in Other Environmental Pollution
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was enacted in 1987. A new study has revealed that the ...
Loading Comments...