Monday, August 21, 2017

Exploding Hyena



While on observations a few weeks ago, we came across a dead hyena on the side of the road. We got out of the car to inspect this individual and noticed that it had swelled to about double a normal hyena’s size. Unable to recognize it as one of our own, we got a little closer to take ID photographs, and that’s when we heard it farting! We realized that gas was exiting the body and that this hyena was ready to explode! 
Notice the swelling.
Upon our (reluctant) inspection we noticed that she had a huge scrape on her left shoulder, but due to swelling (and fear of explosion), we were unable to feel for broken bones. Her shoulder wound was large, wet, and literally bubbling from escaping gas! With no obvious bite wounds or any other signs of being in a fight, we figured that she was probably hit by a car, and based on her size and state, we estimated that she died sometime the previous day.
The bubbling wound.
We are currently not doing complete necropsies, which is partially due to difficulties getting hyena skulls back to the US, but we still collect basic information when possible; this includes body measurements, dental measurements, and collecting tissue samples for DNA. As we stood a healthy distance from the newly dubbed Farting Bomb, we debated whether getting a tissue sample was worth the possibility of explosion, but eventually, I decided to just go for it. I grabbed a sterile blade and sliced off a thin section of ear, which quickly began to bleed. We all jumped a few steps back and packaged the sample into a vial.
Getting the tissue sample.
Back at camp we were able to ID her as a hyena named SEHE, from a clan we no longer study called “Fig Tree.” From this, we were able to properly label the vial containing her tissue sample and place it in our LN2 tanks for use in the US. All in all it was a good day, SEHE did not explode on us, and we were able to get valuable information about her for use in the lab back home.
Putting SEHE's tissue sample in a vial.


1 comment:

dp said...

Ugh. Note, however, that "vile" and "vial" are two very different words!


Michigan State University | College of Natural Science