The Liushu Formation of China was filled with large and unique mammals, all dating back to the end of the Miocene. During this heyday of the mammalian era, a diverse fauna of giraffe ancestors, rhinos, three-toed Hipparion horses and elephant-like mastodons existed there. Among these animals was the large and successful rhinoceros Chilotherium, known from all over Eurasia and existing for many millions of years.
However in Liushu, a female Chilotherium had met her match. An intriguing fossil find was published in the 2010 edition of the scientific journal Chinese Science Bulletin by a team comprising Tao Deng and J. Zhijie Tseng. They described a 9-million-year-old skull and jaw bone from a female rhino with a deep injury on the animal’s forehead.
Chilotherium had no horns and instead bore a pair of curved tusks for defense and display. But the curvature of these tusks was too much to cause an injury so high on the animal’s skull. The only predator that could have caused the wound was the immense Dinocrocuta gigantea, with the puncture marks clearly matching the dimensions of the predator’s canines. According to the team the presence of only one puncture wound and subsequent bone growth over the injury indicate that the rhino had managed to fight off her attacker and escape.