The spotted (Crocuta crocuta), brown (Hyaena brunnea), and striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) are well documented collectors of faunal remains. Actualistic studies of spotted and brown hyenas used as analogs for hominin behavior abound, while the striped hyena has received relatively little attention. Ultimately, the composition of hyena scavenging and den assemblages and their taphonomic histories are of interest to paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, and paleontologists because they may help elucidate questions about early hominin behavior. Striped hyenas are the most prodigious bone collector among extant hyenas, and their small body size, omnivorous diet, and deferential behavior are all applicable to previously hypothesized foraging behaviors of Oldowan hominins. In 2009, near Mount Olorgesailie, in the Kaijado District of Kenya, an adult eland (Taurotragus oryx) was presumably killed by a lion (Panthera leo), and subsequently scavenged by striped hyenas. Detailed observations of this scavenging event, which lasted for more than 30 days, are reported here; the results of this actualistic study are applied to current hypotheses of Oldowan hominin foraging behavior. Given the small body size, solitary social structure, and deferential behavior of striped hyenas, and presumably their Pliocene phylogenetic counterparts, early hominins could have successfully challenged striped hyenas for recently killed prey more efficiently than they could have contested spotted hyenas for prey. Extant striped hyena behavior also provides paleoanthropologists with exciting analogs for early hominin scavenging behavior.
Leslie, David E.
"A Striped Hyena Scavenging Event: Implications for Oldowan Hominin Behavior,"
Field Notes: A Journal of Collegiate Anthropology: Vol. 8
, Article 8.
Available at: https://dc.uwm.edu/fieldnotes/vol8/iss1/8