Table of Contents
Paleontology Journal
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 106203, 34 pages
Research Article

Palaeopopulations of Late Pleistocene Top Predators in Europe: Ice Age Spotted Hyenas and Steppe Lions in Battle and Competition about Prey

Private Research Institute Paleologic, Petra Bezruce 96, 26751 Zdice, Czech Republic

Received 21 March 2013; Accepted 11 June 2013; Published 20 February 2014

Academic Editor: Vlad Codrea

Copyright © 2014 Cajus G. Diedrich. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Late Pleistocene spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta spelaea (Goldfuss, 1823) and steppe lion Panthera leo spelaea (Goldfuss, 1810) were top predators in Central Europe. The fossil record (2.303 hyena/1.373 lion bones = ratio 3/1) from 106 cave and open air sites demonstrates comparable associations to modern African hyenas/lions resulting in competition about prey and territory. Cannibalism within extinct spotted hyenas is well documented, including two individual skeletons. Those hyenas produced bone accumulations at dens. Feeding specializations on different megamammal groups are demonstrated for Late Pleistocene hyenas whose prey partly overlaps (e.g., cave bears) with those of lions and wolves. At most fossil sites, 1–3% of the lion remains indicate scavenging of lions by hyenas. The larger Late Pleistocene felids focussed on cervids (reindeers specialization during the high glacial = LGM), on bovids (steppe bison/aurochs), and possibly on saiga antelope and on the cave bear, hunting deep in caves during their hibernations and targeting cubs. The cave bear feeding was the target of all three top predators (lions, hyenas, and wolves) in the Late Pleistocene boreal forests which caused deathly conflicts in caves between them, especially with lions/hyenas and herbivorous cave bears that have no modern analogue.