Friday, June 9, 2017


You can ask anyone in Fisi Camp, and we'll tell you the same thing: hyenas are super amazing animals. However, a few of our hyenas are a little extra super. In fact, I suspect a few them may have secret superpowers.

Sam I Am
Built-in satellite dishes

Sam I Am is receiving new information.
Hyenas have adorably huge ears, but Sam I Am takes this to the next level. You don't have to take my word for it – see the photo below to compare Sam I Am's ears to a "normal" cub's ears. I suspect that Sam I Am's ears may actually function like satellite dishes. By receiving information via satellite, she stays up-to-date on all the latest news. She also gets over a hundred channels, including Animal Planet.

Tangy (right) has normal-sized ears. Compare the size to Sam I Am's (left) giant ears!

Life-force absorption

Tangy at 2.5 months of age. Tangy's head and neck have already faded to white. (All photos of Tangy and Sweet were taken on the same day.)
Tangy's brother and littermate, Sweet, at 2.5 months of age. Sweet's forehead is just begin to lighten in color.
I suspect one of Sam I Am's denmates, Tangy, has a slightly more sinister power. From a young age, we could easily tell Tangy apart from his brother, Sweet, due to their difference in size and color. Tangy grew and developed much faster than Sweet. At just two and a half months of age, Tangy was already notably bigger than Sweet. He was also showing off his spots, while Sweet was still all black. I suspected right away that Tangy may be siphoning off more than just milk from his brother...

Tangy has almost all of his spots. And what a beauty he is!

We'll have to be patient as Sweet's spots slowly come in.
(Tangy lurks in the background.)

Perhaps Tangy is absorbing poor little Sweet's energy. Whether this is the result of dark powers or hyena politics, one thing is certain: it's good to be the dominant cub.

Sam I Am (top left), Sweet (bottom left), and Tangy (right) guard the communal den.

Super strength

Java has single-handedly brought down a huge warthog and carried it back to the den for her youngest cubs, Kapuas River and Lake Toba. She bears some fresh wounds from the hunt.

As the matriarch of South Clan, Java's Hulk-like strength benefits the whole clan, especially the Royal Family. She is large, powerful, tough, and brave. When she hears trouble in her territory, she comes running to address the problem. The Southies must appreciate having her around when hunting large prey, fending off lions at kills, and defending the territory. You won't like her when she's angry.


Emma the hyena. (Photo credit anonymous)

In a harsh and unpredictable environment, adaptability is key to survival. Hyenas are known for their behavioral flexibility, but Emma is the master of physical adaptation. This shapeshifter can take many shapes and forms.

By gorging herself on fresh meat, Emma has the ability to take the form of a beached whale. (Photo credit anonymous)

Super senses

Trebuchet's protruding canine tooth makes him easy to recognize from a distance. (Photo credit anonymous)

Speaking of whales, Trebuchet does not so much resemble a medieval weapon as he does a narwhal. His jaw was broken as a cub, but he miraculously survived and is now thriving in Happy Zebra Clan. The only sign of his cubhood injury is one tusk-like, forward-projecting canine tooth. In my opinion, this gives him the appearance of a narwhal... and perhaps some of the same abilities. There is some debate as to whether this tusk-like tooth functions to attract females or to sense his environment, but I personally suspect that it gives him super senses.

Much like Trebuchet, a narwhal's tusk is actually a protruding canine tooth.
Some argue that this tooth helps to win over the hearts of females, because the tusk is more prominent in males.
Others argue that it serves as a sensory organ, because small openings in the protective outer layer of the tooth allow sea water to contact the blood vessels and nerves inside the tooth.
(Photo from World Wildlife Fund)


Trumain's cloak of invisibility slides off, barely revealing her identity.

Trumain knows how to go off the grid entirely. We identify our hyenas by their spots, and Trumain quickly learned that by hiding herself under a cloak of invisibility (a.k.a. mud) she could remain completely anonymous to us pesky researchers. Trumain spends a great deal of time wallowing in mud, just in case she suddenly needs to disappear.

Trumain is almost too big to disappear today.

Honor Harrington
Summon demons

Honor Harrington may be crazy, but she's also crazy beautiful.

Marten is known for having crazy kids, but Honor can get extra crazy when properly motivated. During Lily's inhibition trials, Honor took a liking not only to the food reward, but to the plastic inhibition tubes themselves. Camp legend holds many tales of Honor carrying around the tube, refusing to surrender it, and even chasing after the car to retrieve her precious tube.

Recently, we saw this crazy side for ourselves. We asked Honor to participate in some more inhibition trials and she obliged... a little too eagerly. Rather than waiting patiently between trials for us to reload the tube with food, Honor, chased after the car. When moving the car in between each trial, we could see Honor chasing after us, as if she were possessed.

When the inhibition trials were over, we wished Honor a good evening and went about our business. Honor, however, had other plans -- she wasn't done with us yet. We had to speed up as we left, because we could see her in the rear-view window chasing the car.

We finally reached the communal den, 1.2 kilometers away from where we left Honor, and thought we were safe.

Guess who showed up within a few minutes?

I believe that all of Marten's kiddos have some inner demons, but Honor has learned to channel hers towards one single purpose: get the tube.

The villain

Although all hyenas are super, not all of them have super powers, and no story is compete without a villain. As a cub, Claymore was bullied by her denmates. When her mother was away, four of the other cubs would sometimes pick her up by her feet and pull her in four different directions!

Claymore wished and wished for superpowers so that she could fend off the bullies, but, alas, she had none. Embittered by months of abuse, the once-sweet Claymore grew into a villain: a cold-blooded cub killer.

Claymore has become notorious over the years for killing hyena cubs. For the gruesome details, read about Claymore's most recent attack.

Sources (function of narwhal tusk)

No comments:

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science