1. Greg Peterson says

    Well, of all the irreducibly complex, no-free-lunch intelligent designs I’ve seen, being penetrated through and giving birth through what amounts to a penis is among the most wonderful. The Creator’s genius is surpassed only by His whimsy.

  2. says

    My office mate did his PhD on these exemplers of good design, so was talking about them recently. Apparenlty the umbilical cord is too short and tends to break before the pup is born as well.

  3. says

    Certainly a messy solution. “Why” do hyaenas have such unusual genitals?

    Speaking of bad design, that cyclone flash animation that is part of that “Mega Disasters” ad in the side bar is somewhat annoying …

  4. rrt says

    Dr. Tatiana:

    has a nice discussion about this, too. It’s just all-around nasty. (note…not shilling for the good Doctor, just like the book)

    Isn’t there some old creationist argument about only humans suffering painful and dangerous childbirth as a consequence of original sin, which animals don’t suffer because they’re exempt from said sin?

  5. says

    This is the best God could do? In His omnipotent omniscience, He couldn’t make a more elegant and reliable way for the mother hyena to give birth to her babies? Oh, wait, I know, the hyena race is being punished by God for some terrible sin committed by ancient hyena ancestors: “In terrible pain and with deformed genitalia shall you bear children, two-thirds of whom will die during the process!”

    Give me a break. Anybody who can look at this, or any of thousands of other similar screw-ups of nature, and say that all is perfect in God’s creation is just delusional. Nature provides for adequacy, not perfection, and any God that works this way is a strange God at best. I’ll take Mother Nature any day. At least she’s honest about her inadequacies.

  6. George Cauldron says

    All in all, the Spotted Hyena is a pretty rocking animal:

    The spotted hyena is primarily a predator, not a scavenger. Individuals have been clocked at over 55 kilometres per hour (34 mph), and when hunting in packs are capable of taking down the largest of prey. Spotted Hyenas have such formidable jaws (one of the strongest in the animal kingdom) and teeth that they devour even the bones of their kill. This, combined with their very strong stomach acid, results in them having crusty white droppings (from all the bone meal). The hyena’s distinctive laughing call, used to disorient prey and gather the pack, has resulted in their nickname “laughing hyena”.

    Although lions are much larger, hyenas will defend their kills if possible, and hyena packs have been known to kill lions if they outnumber them significantly.
    (from, where else, Wikipedia)

    The thing that’s most mind-boggling about this bizarre, cobbled-together reproductive system is that it obviously works. As fucked up and hazardous as it is, Brown Hyenas seem to be thriving, over 2/3rds of Africa. Try and imagine the selective pressures that would FAIL to stop a system like this from evolving, or fail to weed it out. Ouch.

    Funny thing, some more PG13 wildlife websites severely censor the bizarro facts about how these guys breed. For example HERE:, where the closest they come to this is “Determining the sex of males and females is difficult, because their reproductive organs appear similar!” Ho ho.

    Guess they thought the real story would scar kids for life. They’re right, of course.

  7. Torbjörn Larsson says

    My comment sits there with its now editorialised history and looks decidedly anal. I’m doing it to get used to the correct spelling of course – but perhaps you knew that.

  8. Caledonian says

    Don’t worry about the selective pressures that fail to weed it out, worry about the selective pressures that may cause that reproductive system to be an effective strategy.

    It’s not always a good idea to have highly efficient reproduction, for a variety of reasons.