Named By: Miklos Kretzoi - 1938.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Carnivora, Percrocutidae.
Species: P. abessalomi, P. giganteus, P. hebeiensis, P. miocenica.
Size: Around 1.5 meters long.
Known locations: Across Africa and Asia with countries including Algeria, China, Ethiopia, Libya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.
Time period: Langhian of the Miocene through to Zanclean/Piacenzian of the Pliocene.
Fossil representation: Multiple specimens though often of partial remains.
hyenas had their origin in ancient genera such as Ictitherium,
the Miocene exceptionally large forms such as Percrocuta
evolved into a more recognisably hyena form. Percrocuta
robust skull and jaws with attachment points that would have allowed
for a powerful bite. The rear teeth of Percrocuta
however were more
adapted for slicing than crunching, something that might suggest a
lifestyle that had more of a shift towards predation than actual
scavenging (although modern hyenas are known to be perfectly capable
of killing their own food rather than rely upon scavenging alone).
Percrocuta likely filled a similar ecological niche as todays spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), living and hunting in grassy plains ecosystems. Today the spotted hyena lives alongside big cats such as lions, leopards and cheetahs, but Percrocuta instead lived alongside the ecological forerunners of modern big cats, the barbourofelids. These later would have been replaced by other predators such as true sabre-toothed cats such as Machairodus. Also while the spotted hyena lives alongside populations of wild dogs, Percrocuta likely came into contact with amphicyonids (popularly known as bear dogs).
Pack hunting and living in social groups is still hard to establish with certainty for Percrocuta, though given the behaviour of its modern relatives, it is at least considered more probable than solitary living.