THE BLOG
16/02/2015 08:26 GMT | Updated 15/04/2015 06:59 BST

Depressed on Valentine's Day? Well it's No Laughing Matter for Male Hyenas Either

There is surely no single day in our busy calendars capable of conjuring up such opposite ends of our delicate emotional spectrums than Valentine's Day.

However the reality can be extremely harsh and at some point we've all been there.

Traipsing miserably through darkened empty streets, dragging our desperate single heals past never-ending candle-lit rose-tinted posh restaurant windows, braggingly glowing with softly-lit smug couples, and proving that romance definitely isn't dead - well for one night anyway.

But there is only one animal out there that really does have a good enough reason to wallow in his own self-pity much more than we do.

Because thousands of miles away on the arid plains of Africa, the male Spotted Hyena will have to endure yet another annual sprinkling of emotional salt onto his giant, year-round, sensitive wound.

For in this day and age, it's simply not enough to have already been crowned 'The Old World's Most Dominant Scavenger', own a stomach so effective at digestion it contains acid strong enough to easily dissolve any bone dipped in it, or even sport a mohican haircut that took 26 million years of evolution to successfully style into a cool and rebellious 'reverse forwards' look.

You see, what really gets our male Spotted Hyena down is the fact that his female counterpart - Mrs Spotted Hyena to you and I - has much larger 'bits' than he does.

And when I say 'bits', yes I do mean her genital 'bits'; so much so that until fairly recently, females were actually thought to be hermaphrodites.

Female hyenas even give birth and urinate through this unique protruding genital which is also required to stretch accommodating the male during sexy-times.

Its anatomical position also gives females complete control over which males are allowed to mate with her, which - coupled with the fact that the females are significantly larger than the males - makes them the totally dominant sex within their highly intellectual and noisy social packs.

To make matters even more complicated, females also possess pair of fake testicles which are filled with fatty tissue; so imagine the surprise of those first 19th Century explorers of Africa when they witnessed their caged "male" hyenas actually giving birth in front of their very rather-confused eyes!

So if on Valentine's Saturday, it all seems to be getting a bit too much, please spare a thought for our lonely male Spotted Hyena, home alone, and chomping on his zebra-flavoured meal-for-one, it's a wonder he's still got anything to laugh about.