Spotted hyena attack

In Kenya, a mother and son were badly injured in a nighttime brawl with a predatory hyena. Another son and some neighbors received lesser injuries. The hospital employee interviewed for this newspaper account says he's seeing hyena victims approximately every month.

The attacker here was apparently a spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), which is surpassed only by certain crocodilian and cat species as the major predator of humans in the world. One theory holds that people only arrived in North America recently (some 14 thousand years ago) because that's when climate change forced the spotted hyena south of the Bering Land Bridge. Before that, the hyenas were too formidable an obstacle. Another theory claims lions began to form prides because that was the only way they could survive in an Africa dominated by clans of hyena. And, while I'm doling out theories, there's also the notion that predatory pressure from hyenas forced humans and wolves to cohabit for protection. That led splinter groups of wolves to evolve into dogs, which are merely wolves after a few generations of domestication. It also allowed humans to settle down into agricultural communities and, eventually, towns and cities.


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