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Three species of hyaena survive today: the striped hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) of northeast Africa and parts of Asia; the spotted hyaena ( Crocuta crocuta) of East and South Africa, and the South African brown hyaena (Hyaena brunnea). In the past, the spotted hyaena in particular had a far wider distribution. Throughout much of the Quaternary, Crocuta was common in European caves. Today’s Crocuta are social animals, forming clans which hunt together and live in one den. This presumably explains the concentration of bones from Crocuta and other animals in caves. These ‘Cave Hyaena’ have been differentiated by some authors as Crocuta spelaea, although there is little evidence to support this.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied