ADCROCUTA: TUROLIAN SCAVENGER PAR EXCELLENCE
During my visit to the amazing fossil sites and Paleontology Museum of Hezheng province in China I had the opportunity to study first-hand a whole range of beautiful carnivore fossils. Among the best preserved of them were several skulls of the Miocene hyenid Adcrocuta eximia. As I mentioned in a previous post, Adcrocuta took the place of the much larger “monster-hyena”, Dinocrocuta in the Baodean environments in China, broadly comparable in age to the Turolian of Europe.
Here is one of the admirably well preserved skulls of Adcrocuta on display at the Hezheng museum of Paleontology
Unlike Dinocrocuta, Adcrocuta was a true hyena, and its size and proportions look far more familiar to a modern observer. The Hezheng skulls define the shape of the animal´s head admirably well, and allowed me to prepare a series of quick sketches of its possible life appearance. These are just impressions, but to me they are enough to get a glimpse of Adcrocuta as a lively and efficient predator and scavenger. It was the inseparable rival of Amphimachairodus in all of Eurasia, from Spain to China, but for some reason, and unlike the sabertooth, it never made it to the New World. One of the many mysteries of hyenid evolution.
It was once a popular notion to see Miocene hyenas as mere scavengers depending for their livelihood on the kills of the sabertooths. But just as we now know that modern spotted hyenas are efficient predators as well as scavengers, so our view of their fossil relatives has become more complex. The fossil record is giving more insights about these animals, and about Adcrocuta in particular. We shall see more about t in future posts!