The hyaenid Pliocrocuta perrieri is one of the commonest large carnivoran species in the European Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene, being recorded from more than 20 sites across the Old World. In spite of this, adult and fairly complete crania of this species have been only recovered from the French locality of Saint-Vallier (Early Pleistocene, MN17). Here we describe three new crania of this bone-cracking hyena from the classic Iberian localities of Villarroya (Late Pliocene, MN16a) and La Puebla de Valverde (Early Pleistocene, MN17). The morphology of the new crania is compared (both qualitatively and metrically) with that of previously known craniodental remains of P. perrieri, as well as with that of other extinct hyaenids, including its closest relative (Pachycrocuta brevirostris) and the contemporaneous Chasmaporthetes lunensis. The described skulls display many morphological and morphometric similarities with previously-known specimens of P. perrieri, including the relatively long muzzle, the triangular, slender and long nasals, the relatively short P2, and other occlusal details. In contrast, the new specimens display significant differences compared with both C. lunensis (the shorter muzzle, the more anterior orbits and more posterior infraorbital foramen, the triangular nasals, and the broader premolars with a relatively shorter P2) and Pa. brevirostris (smaller craniodental size, longer muzzle, and various dental occlusal details). The new skulls of P. perrieri reported here enable a more complete evaluation of intraspecific variability in this taxon, and the study of their internal anatomy might provide, in the future, new data on the paleoecology of P. perrieri and its phylogenetic relationships with other bone-cracking hyenas, both extant and extinct.
- La Puebla de Valverde