CARRASCOSA: THE HARSH KINGDOM OF DINAILURICTIS
Long before the true sabretooth cats evolved, the strange nimravids ruled the stark plains of the Spanish Oligocene, and among the largest of the nimravids was Dinailurictis. One fossil site that provides an intriguing glimpse into that lost world is Carracosa, in Cuenca province.
Data from the fossil site indicate that the climate was dry and seasonal, and the animals that inhabited this region would have looked quite unfamiliar to us. Dinailurictis, with a body mass of around 130 kg, was clearly a top predator, and in this reconstruction we see it having just caught a pig-like ungulate, Methriotherium. Slightly larger ungulates, like Eggysodon (a lightly built relative of the rhinos, seen in the background) would also be among its potential prey, while the hare-sized Cainotherium would be in most cases too small and agile to be worth chasing. Crocodiles were common in Europe during these hot times, making it more dangerous for animals to quench their thirst.
The fossil record of late Oligocene mammalian faunas is extremely patchy in Spain, so a fossil site like Carrascosa is extremely valuable. The site was discovered decades ago during the works for the construction of a water transfer from the Tagus to the Segura river basin, and it remains virtually our only window into the environments and the strange animals that lived there and then.