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Saber-toothed cat struts down Wilshire Blvd in L.A. and comes home to the Tar Pits!
Saber-toothed cat struts down Wilshire Blvd in L.A. and comes home to the Tar Pits!
Published: 2012/09/11
Channel: La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
SMILODON - Sabre Toothed Beast [HD]
SMILODON - Sabre Toothed Beast [HD]
Published: 2013/09/06
Channel: AP Editing
How saber-toothed cats grew their mouth swords
How saber-toothed cats grew their mouth swords
Published: 2015/07/01
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Extinction Smilodon, The Saber Toothed Tiger Nature & Animal Documentary
Extinction Smilodon, The Saber Toothed Tiger Nature & Animal Documentary
Published: 2014/08/17
Channel: Louise Carlock
American Lion vs Sabre Toothed Cat   Who would win in a fight
American Lion vs Sabre Toothed Cat Who would win in a fight
Published: 2015/08/28
Channel: Lion King
Saber Toothed Cat at NHM LA
Saber Toothed Cat at NHM LA
Published: 2012/06/01
Channel: Jenny Gillett
Ice Age Saber Tooth Attack
Ice Age Saber Tooth Attack
Published: 2016/11/21
Channel: Movies2You
Top 10 Extinct Animal Species
Top 10 Extinct Animal Species
Published: 2014/07/02
Channel: Animal Breeds
Sabre-toothed tiger attack  - Primeval - BBC America
Sabre-toothed tiger attack - Primeval - BBC America
Published: 2009/05/30
Channel: BBC America
Young Saber-Toothed Cats Relied On Parents While Teeth Grew - Newsy
Young Saber-Toothed Cats Relied On Parents While Teeth Grew - Newsy
Published: 2015/07/02
Channel: Newsy Science
Saber-Toothed Tiger Pride vs Woolly Mammoth
Saber-Toothed Tiger Pride vs Woolly Mammoth
Published: 2016/08/30
Channel: edibtra
10 Prehistoric Battles that Could and Probably Did Happen
10 Prehistoric Battles that Could and Probably Did Happen
Published: 2014/12/05
Channel: UltimateFantasyPrimo
Ice Age Encounter
Ice Age Encounter
Published: 2011/05/24
Channel: NinjaLawyerSteve
Saber toothed cats are alive!
Saber toothed cats are alive!
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Channel: TrikeFlyer
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Published: 2013/03/21
Channel: King Ashur
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Published: 2017/02/12
Channel: edibtra
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Smilodon or Saber-toothed cat [Extinct]
Published: 2015/10/04
Channel: Animal education
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Mountain Lions & Saber Tooth Cat - Wild New World - BBC history
Published: 2008/12/05
Channel: BBCWorldwide
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Harlan Finds a Saber Tooth Tiger Skull!
Published: 2016/08/27
Channel: Joe Haywood
Huge Fossil Footprints of Saber-Toothed Cat Discovered | Prehistoric News
Huge Fossil Footprints of Saber-Toothed Cat Discovered | Prehistoric News
Published: 2016/06/23
Channel: ThePrehistoricMaster
Popular Videos - Saber-toothed cat & Lions
Popular Videos - Saber-toothed cat & Lions
Published: 2017/01/07
Channel: hellokitty9437
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Published: 2014/05/21
Channel: homeandfamilytv
Documentary Predators- Ice Age Giants 1of3 Land of the Sabre Tooth
Documentary Predators- Ice Age Giants 1of3 Land of the Sabre Tooth
Published: 2016/08/30
Channel: Predator Documentary-2016
Smilodon or Saber toothed cat
Smilodon or Saber toothed cat
Published: 2017/01/21
Channel: Rare video
10,000 BC (2008) - Smilodon Saves D
10,000 BC (2008) - Smilodon Saves D'Leh Full HD Scene
Published: 2016/09/14
Channel: Happy Banana
Dr. Will Ferrell Speaks Saber-tooth #HowDoYouMuseum
Dr. Will Ferrell Speaks Saber-tooth #HowDoYouMuseum
Published: 2016/02/11
Channel: La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
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What Did Sabertooth Cats Look Like? | Artist Resources
Published: 2016/03/08
Channel: Thagomizers
Sabertooth book trailer
Sabertooth book trailer
Published: 2013/10/02
Channel: Indiana University Press
Woolly mammoth and sabre-toothed tiger side-by-side at exhibition in Mexico
Woolly mammoth and sabre-toothed tiger side-by-side at exhibition in Mexico
Published: 2013/12/02
Channel: ODN
Smilodon - Clash of the Sabers
Smilodon - Clash of the Sabers
Published: 2008/07/28
Channel: knightscum07
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Published: 2008/08/26
Channel: BBCWorldwide
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Published: 2013/02/03
Channel: CoolSpidey CP3
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Published: 2017/04/12
Channel: Above Science
Gary Baseman
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Published: 2016/03/08
Channel: La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
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Channel: RoyalPanthera
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Published: 2015/08/28
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Ice Age Encounters - La Brea Tar Pits Museum - Sabre-Toothed Cat
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Published: 2016/06/27
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Published: 2016/03/04
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A Sabertooth Cat Tribute
A Sabertooth Cat Tribute
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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Smilodon skull cast with jaws at maximum gape

A saber-toothed cat (alternatively spelled sabre-toothed cat)[1] is any member of various extinct groups of predatory mammals that were characterized by long, curved saber-shaped canine teeth. The large maxillary canine teeth extended from the mouth even when it was closed. The saber-toothed cats were found worldwide from the Eocene epoch to the end of the Pleistocene epoch (42 mya – 11,000 years ago), existing for about 42 million years.[2][3][4]

One of the best known genera is Smilodon, species of which, especially S. fatalis, are popularly referred as a "saber-toothed tiger," a genus within the subfamily Machairodontinae of the carnivoran family Felidae. Extant members of Felidae include cats of the subfamilies Felinae and Pantherinae.

However, usage of the word cat is in some cases a misnomer, as many species referred to as saber-toothed "cats" are not closely related to modern cats of Felidae: instead, many are members of other feliform carnivoran families, such as Barbourofelidae and Nimravidae;[5][5] the oxyaenid "creodont" genera Machaeroides and Apataelurus; and two lineages of metatherian mammals, the thylacosmilids of Sparassodonta, and deltatheroideans, which are more closely related to marsupials than to the placental mammals of the other orders mentioned. In this regard, saber-toothed cats can be viewed as examples of convergent evolution.[6] This convergence is remarkable due not only to the development of elongated canines, but also a suite of other characteristics, such as a wide gape and bulky forelimbs, that is so consistent that it has been termed the “saber-tooth suite.”[7]

Of the feliform lineages, the family Nimravidae is the oldest, entering the landscape around 42 mya and becoming extinct by 7.2 mya. Barbourofelidae entered around 16.9 mya and were extinct by 9 mya. These two would have shared some habitats.

Morphology[edit]

The different groups of saber-toothed cats evolved their saber-toothed characteristics entirely independently. They are most known for having maxillary canines which extended down from the mouth even when the mouth was closed. Saber-toothed cats were generally more robust than today's cats and were quite bear-like in build. They were believed to be excellent hunters and hunted animals such as sloths, mammoths, and other large prey. Evidence from the numbers found at La Brea Tar Pits suggests that Smilodon, like modern lions, was a social carnivore.[8]

The first saber-tooths appear among the synapsids, or mammal-like reptiles; they were one of the first groups of animals to experience specialization of teeth, and many had long canines. Some had two pairs of upper canines with two jutting down from each side, but most had one pair of upper extreme canines. Because of their primitiveness, they are extremely easy to tell from machairodonts. Several defining characteristics are a lack of coronoid process, many sharp "premolars" more akin to pegs than scissors, and a very long, lizard-like head.

The second appearance is in Deltatheroida, a lineage of Cretaceous metatherians. At least one genus, Lotheridium, possessed long canines, and given both the predatory habits of the clade as well as the generally incomplete material, this may have been a more widespread adaptation.[9]

The third appearance of long canines is Thylacosmilus, which is the most distinctive of the saber-tooth mammals and is also easy to tell apart. It differs from machairodonts in possessing a very prominent flange and a tooth that is triangular in cross section. The root of the canines is more prominent than in machairodonts and a true sagittal crest is absent.

The fourth instance of saber-teeth is from the clade Oxyaenidae. The small and slender Machaeroides bore canines that were thinner than in the average machairodont. Its muzzle was longer and narrower.

The fifth saber-tooth appearance is the ancient family of carnivores, the nimravids, and they are notoriously hard to tell apart from machairodonts. Both groups have short skulls, tall sagittal crests, and their general skull shape is very similar. Some have distinctive flanges, and some have none at all, so this confuses the matter further. Machairodonts were almost always bigger, though, and their canines were longer and more stout for the most part, but exceptions do appear.

The sixth appearance is the barbourofelids. These carnivores are very closely related to actual cats, and as such, they are hard to tell apart. The best known barbourofelid is Barbourofelis, which differs from most machairodonts by having a much heavier and more stout mandible, smaller orbits, massive and almost knobby flanges, and canines that are farther back. The average machairodont had well-developed incisors, but barbourofelids were more extreme.

The seventh and last of the saber-tooth group to evolve were the machairodonts themselves.

Diet[edit]

Reconstruction of a Smilodon

Many of the saber-toothed cats' food sources were large mammals such as elephants, rhinos, and other colossal herbivores of the era. The evolution of enlarged canines in Tertiary carnivores was a result of large mammals being the source of prey for saber-toothed cats. The development of the saber-toothed condition appears to represent a shift in function and killing behavior, rather than one in predator-prey relations. Many hypotheses exist concerning saber-tooth killing methods, some of which include attacking soft tissue such as the belly and throat, where biting deep was essential to generate killing blows. The elongated teeth also aided with strikes reaching major blood vessels in these large mammals. However, the precise functional advantage of the saber-toothed cat's bite, particularly in relation to prey size, is a mystery. A new point-to-point bite model is introduced in the article by Andersson et al., showing that for saber-tooth cats, the depth of the killing bite decreases dramatically with increasing prey size.[10] The extended gape of saber-toothed cats results in a considerable increase in bite depth when biting into prey with a radius of less than 10 cm. For the saber-tooth, this size-reversed functional advantage suggests predation on species within a similar size range to those attacked by present-day carnivorans, rather than "mega herbivores" as previously believed.

A disputing view of the cat’s hunting technique and ability is presented by C. K. Brain in “The Hunters or the Hunted?” in which he attributes the cat's prey-killing abilities to its large neck muscles rather than its jaws.[11] Large cats use both the upper and lower jaw to bite down and bring down the prey. The strong bite of the jaw is accredited to the strong temporalis muscle that attach from the skull to the coronoid process of the jaw. The larger the coronoid process, the larger the muscle that attaches there, so the stronger the bite. As C.K. Brain points out, the saber-toothed cats had a greatly reduced coronoid process and therefore a disadvantageously weak bite. The cat did, however, have an enlarged mastoid process, a muscle attachment at the base of the skull, which attaches to neck muscles. According to C.K. Brain, the saber-tooth would use a “downward thrust of the head, powered by the neck muscles” to drive the large upper canines into the prey. This technique was “more efficient than those of true cats”.[11]

Biology[edit]

The similarity in all these unrelated families involves convergent evolution of the saber-like canines as a hunting adaptation. Meehan et al.[12] note that it took around 8 million years for a new type of saber-toothed cat to fill the niche of an extinct predecessor in a similar ecological role; this has happened at least four times with different families of animals developing this adaptation. Although the adaptation of the saber-like canines made these creatures successful, it seems that the shift to obligate carnivorism, along with co-evolution with large prey animals, led the saber-toothed cats of each time period to extinction. As per Van Valkenburgh, the adaptations that made saber-toothed cats successful also made the creatures vulnerable to extinction. In her example, trends toward an increase in size, along with greater specialization, acted as a "macro-evolutionary ratchet": when large prey became scarce or extinct, these creatures would be unable to adapt to smaller prey or consume other sources of food, and would be unable to reduce their size so as to need less food.[13]

Phylogeny of feliform saber-tooths[edit]

The following cladogram shows the relationships between the feliform saber-tooths, including the Nimravidae, Barbourofelidae and Machairodontinae.[14][15] Saber-toothed groups are marked with background colours.



Nimravidae




Dinictis felina



Pogonodon platycopis






Eusmilus

Eusmilus olsontau




Eusmilus villebramarensis



Eusmilus cerebralis





Hoplophoneus dakotensis




Hoplophoneus primaevus



Hoplophoneus occidentalis




Nanosmilus kurténi





Eofelis edwardsii




Nimravus brachyops


("false sabertooths")



Haplogale media



Barbourofelidae
Barbourofelis



Barbourofelis morrisi



Barbourofelis fricki




Barbourofelis loveorum




Barbourofelis whitfordi




Sansanosmilus vallesiensis


("false sabertooths")
Felidae


Proailurus lemanensis


"Pseudaelurus"


Hyperailuricitis skinneri



Nimravides

Nimravides pedionomus



Nimravides thinobates




Hyperailuricitis intrepidus




Hyperailuricitis validus





Pseudaelurus quadridentatus


Machairodontinae


Machairodus

Machairodus aphanistus



Machairodus horribilis






Amphimachairodus


Amphimachairodus kurteni



Amphimachairodus kabir




Amphimachairodus giganteus






Lokotunjailurus emageritus


Homotheriini

Dinobastis

Dinobastis serus



Dinobastis venezuelensis




Xenosmilus hodsonae




Homotherium latidens


(scimitar‑toothed)





Metailurini
Dinofelis


Dinofelis petteri



Dinofelis paleoonca




Dinofelis cristata



Metailurus

Metailurus major



Metailurus parvulus







Promegantereon ogygia


Smilodontini
Megantereon



Megantereon whitei



Megantereon cultridens




Megantereon ekidoit




Megantereon hesperus



Smilodon


Smilodon fatalis



Smilodon populator




Smilodon gracilis



(dirk‑toothed)


(sabertooth cats)


Styriofelis

Styriofelis lorteti



Styriofelis turnauensis




Felinae sense lato (includes all extant pantherines and felines)



(grade)





Saber-tooth genera[edit]

Genus Name Species Appeared
(Ma BP)
Died out
(Ma BP)
Regions Canine Size
Smilodon 3–5 2.5 0.01 North & South America 17–30 cm
Hoplophoneus 5 33.7 23.8 North and South America
Eusmilus 3 30.5 28 Eurasia, North America
Dinictis 4 40 25 North America
Dinaelurus 1  ?  ? North America
Dinailurictis 1  ?  ?  ?
Eofelis 2  ?  ?  ?
Nimravidus (Nimravides) 2  ?  ?  ?
Nimravus (Nimravinus) 6 33.5 20 Europe, North America
Nimraviscus 1  ?  ?  ?
Pogonodon 2 15 6 Europe, North America
Quercylurus 1  ?  ?  ?
Archaelurus 1  ?  ?  ?
Aelurogale (Ailurictis) 1  ?  ?  ?
Ictidailurus 1  ?  ?  ?
Albanosmilus 3 18 3 Africa, Eurasia
Afrosmilus 1 25 10 Africa
Barbourofelis 7 15 3 Africa, Eurasia
Ginsburgsmilus 1 23 10 Africa
Prosansanosmilus 2 18 5 Africa, Eurasia
Sansanosmilus 3 12 3 Africa, Eurasia
Syrtosmilus 1 23 8 Africa
Vampyrictis 1 15 3 Africa, Eurasia
Vishnusmilus 1  ?  ?  ?
Homotherium 10 3 0.01 Africa, Eurasia, North & South America
Thylacosmilus 2 10 1.8 South America over 30 cm
Metailurus 9 15 8 Eurasia
Adelphailurus 1 23 5 North America
Paramachairodus 3 20–15 9 Europe
Machairodus 18 15 2 Africa, Eurasia, North America
Miomachairodus 1 13.65 5.33 Europe, Asia, Africa, North America
Amphimachairodus 4 late Miocene  ? Europe, Asia, Northern Africa and North America
Hemimachairodus 1 Pleistocene Pleistocene Java
Lokotunjailurus 1 late Miocene late Miocene Africa
Megantereon 8 3 0.5 Africa, Eurasia, North America
Dinofelis 6 5 1.5 Africa, Eurasia, North America
Therailurus 1 5 2 Africa, Eurasia, North America
Pontosmilus 4 20 9 Eurasia
Proailurus 2 30 20 Europe, North America
Pseudaelurus 1 20 10 Europe, North America
Xenosmilus 1 1.7 1 North America
Stenailurus 1  ?  ?  ?
Epimachairodus 1  ?  ?  ?
Hemimachairodus 1  ?  ?  ?
Ischyrosmilus 1  ?  ?  ?

Saber-tooth taxonomy[edit]

All saber-tooth mammals lived between 33.7 million and 9,000 years ago, but the evolutionary lines that led to the various saber-tooth genera started to diverge much earlier. It is thus a polyphyletic grouping.

The lineage that led to Thylacosmilus was the first to split off, in the late Cretaceous. It is a metatherian, and thus more closely related to kangaroos and opossums than the felines. The hyaenodonts diverged next, possibly before Laurasiatheria, then the oxyaenids, and then the nimravids, before the diversification of the truly feline saber-tooths.

References[edit]

  1. ^ See for example "sabre-toothed cat" Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 26 Oct. 2009.
  2. ^ "PaleoBiology Database: ''Smilodon'', basic info". Paleodb.org. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  3. ^ "PaleoBiology Database: ''Nimravidae'', basic info". Paleodb.org. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  4. ^ "PaleoBiology Database: ''Barbourofelidae'', basic info". Paleodb.org. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  5. ^ a b Barrett, Paul Z. (2016-01-01). "Taxonomic and systematic revisions to the North American Nimravidae (Mammalia, Carnivora)". PeerJ. 4: e1658. PMC 4756750Freely accessible. PMID 26893959. doi:10.7717/peerj.1658. 
  6. ^ Antón, Mauricio (2013). Sabertooth (Life of the Past). Indiana University Press. 
  7. ^ Meachen-Samuels, Julie A. "Morphological convergence of the prey-killing arsenal of sabertooth predators". Paleobiology. 38 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1666/10036.1. 
  8. ^ Carbone, C.; Maddox, T.; Funston, P. J.; Mills, M. G.; Grether, G. F.; Van Valkenburgh, B. (2009). "Parallels between playbacks and Pleistocene tar seeps suggest sociality in an extinct sabretooth cat, Smilodon". Biol Lett. 5 (1): 81–85. PMC 2657756Freely accessible. PMID 18957359. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2008.0526. 
  9. ^ Bi, S.; Jin, X.; Li, S.; Du, T. (2015). "A new Cretaceous metatherian mammal from Henan, China". PeerJ. 3: e896. PMC 4400878Freely accessible. PMID 25893149. doi:10.7717/peerj.896. 
  10. ^ Andersson, K.; Norman, D.; Werdelin, L. (2011). "Sabretoothed Carnivores and the Killing of Large Prey". PLOS ONE. 6 (10): 1–6. PMC 3198467Freely accessible. PMID 22039403. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024971. 
  11. ^ a b Brain, C. K. "Part 2: Fossil Assemblages from the Sterkfontein Valley Caves: Analysis and Interpretation." In: The Hunters or the Hunted?: An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1981. ISBN 0226070891
  12. ^ Meehan, T.J.; Martin, L.D. (2003). "Extinction and Re-Evolution of Similar Adaptive Types (Ecomorphs) in Cenozoic North American Ungulates and Carnivores Reflect van der Hammen's Cycles". Naturwissenschaften. 90: 131–135. PMID 12649755. doi:10.1007/s00114-002-0392-1. 
  13. ^ Van Valkenburgh, B. (2007). "Deja vu: the evolution of feeding morphologies in the Carnivora". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 47 (1): 147–163. PMID 21672827. doi:10.1093/icb/icm016. 
  14. ^ Piras, P; Maiorino, L; Teresi, L; Meloro, C; Lucci, F; Kotsakis, T; Raia, P (2013). "Bite of the cats: relationships between functional integration and mechanical performance as revealed by mandible geometry". Systematic Biology. 62 (6): 878–900. PMID 23925509. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syt053. 
  15. ^ Piras P, Maiorino L, Teresi L, Meloro C, Lucci F, Kotsakis T, Raia P (2013) Data from: Bite of the cats: relationships between functional integration and mechanical performance as revealed by mandible geometry. Dryad Digital Repository. http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kp8t3

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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