Smilodon

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Feline with dagger-teeth

When the early 19th century paleontologists discovered and described the first fossil species of oversized canines, they were convinced that they were in front of the debris of the most terrible carnivorous mammals that ever lived. From then until now, people are convinced that these assumptions are true, influenced by the terrifying aspect of tiger-like tigers almost 30 centimeters long. The truth, like so many other times, is somewhere in the middle …

Until now, the science of palaeontology has investigated not less than 119 species of giant felines. An impressive number that takes us to the diversity of the dentist’s specialization of these atypical cats. Scientists dealing with framing and classification of species, be they fossil or current, already come with a first surprise for us: many of these carnivores were not typical felines, they belonged to distinct subfamilies of primitive cats, disappeared with their representatives.

The carnivores of the peasant past carnivores were part of the great Felidae family, but they were not typical felines, the scientists included them for this reason in the Machairodontine, Barburofeline and Nimravide subfamilies.

All these species dominated the Carnivorous Fauna of the Cenozoic Age, developing its physiological peculiarities according to the environment, alongside the competition from the first wild dogs, hyenas and bears, which they had to share hegemony over the herds of herbivores.

The first dagger tigers appeared somewhere around 33.7 million years ago, in the middle of the Eocene period, for their last representatives to disappear about 10,000 years ago, during the great extinction that put an end to the incumbent megafauna. Within these unusual predators, an interesting phenomenon is observed. The appearance of these carnivores is simply episodic.

That is, they appeared to disappear in intervals of several million years, for over a few million years to reappear in different corners of the planet. Researchers account for this unprecedented phenomenon in any other animal, appearing on specific leaks that would force the sudden adaptation of common cats to the hunt of new species.

Felines with dagger teeth included in their advice both small species that weighed a wild cat, as well as representatives that had the size of a bear … Truly impressive remain the members of the genres Smilodon, Machairodus and Nimravus. These are the ones how came to know as tigers or lions with dagger thighs, although they did not have much in common with either lions or tigers.

Vampire Feline or elephant killers?

When the skeletons of the first carnivores, such as the reed were presented to the British at the beginning of the 20th century, previously influenced by the vampire cheap novels of that time, they were convinced that the terrible carnivores of the past were a sort of ambulant vampires attacking elephants and rhinos to suck their blood with huge canines.

Such ridiculous theory was embraced for the moment by some prestigious paleontologists of that time. The truth was again far from the assumptions of science then. Only the large species of Smilodon and Machairodus dared to attack primitive elephants, but even they did not attack massive elephants such as Deinotherium, mammoth or mastodontilor. All of these species of extinct felines currently have populated large parts of Eurasia, Africa and the Americas.

Collars, weapons or vulnerabilities?

While the current cats have short canines, solidly implanted in alveoli and with a predominant conical shape, the giant canines of Smilodon were not only long but also extremely thin and flattened like a narrow and dagger or sickle blade. For the bite to work properly, all the dagger tigers had fewer premolars on the mandible.

In the same direction, the Smilodons had a very large bite, their jaws opening close to the 140 degree angle, which accredited the idea that the Smilodons opened their mouths so much to successfully apply a fatal bite to the massive body an elephant.

In spite of the infuriating canines, these super-specialized teeth were too fragile for Smilodoni to use in any stabbing bite applied to any part of the body of the leek. If they had a massive bone in their way, such as the shoulder blade, the humerus, or the cranial, the long and narrow tusks risked breaking the dental abscesses or even bacterial infections. According to modern theories and the latest virtual studies and simulations, the Smilodons did not tear the abdomen of the limes to kill them, as it was previously believed.

By doing so, the dagger-shaped felines would probably have blocked the canines in the thoracic cage of the ribs, or the canines would be fractured slightly under the impact of the beating of the biting animal. Currently, the researchers concluded that all daggers with dagger thighs were biting their neck, applying a single fatal bite. The huge corners could thus cut the carotid and the foreskin. With their seemingly invincible appearance, dwarf tigers were weaker warriors who often abandoned the hiatus of hiena, cave lions, or bears, preferring a strategic retreat rather than a fierce struggle. Any conflict with another predator posed the risk of fractured long canines and exposed to the blows of lions and bears.

Some unusual killers

The largest members of the dagger tiger subfamily were without a doubt the representatives of the Smilodon genre who lived exclusively in the Americas. If Smilodon gracilis, the smallest species, did not pass 80 kg. weight, giant Smilodon populist from South America, weighing up to 350kg, according to paleontologist estimates. Though a Smilodon fatalis, the most well-known species, was about the size of an African lion, its weight was almost double, because of the massive and indolent body constitution that was more like a bear than a silhouette of a feline. Smilodon was certainly a perfect ambulance predator, more specialized than leopards and tigers today in this type of hunt.

His very solid physique did not allow him to run after the spoil. Also, unlike the big cats in the present that have a long tail used to keep balance during prey, Smilodons have unnaturally short, beard-like queues, an extra argument for the perfect ambush theory. Its members were shorter but stronger than the lions, and the extensor muscles and flexors of the paws were particularly developed. Due to these anatomic features, the Smilodons suddenly caught their prey in their powerful forepaws, which were driven by retraction claws, and then they instantly applied the fatal bite.

Very interesting was this particular bite. Researchers who studied the shape and particularities of the skull of these cats came to a shocking conclusion! Smilodons had a relatively small force of bite, due to a set of modest muscle massagers. The force developed in the bite of the Smilodon Poplar massif was only a third of that of an African lion present. The dagger tigers can not be measured in a fight for the dangling of a drenched noodle, with lethal American or Eurasian lei, whose bite was obviously stronger than the Siberian tigers. Like the current lions,

Smilodons lived in hierarchical groups, whose social structure allowed them to easily break down a difficult noose, and provide food for wounded or elderly individuals, as palontological discoveries demonstrate. The leeks of these atypical cats were made up of bison, giant elk, camels, horses, giant lenes with chickens and young mammoth and mastodonts. However, according to the researchers’ beliefs, daggers with dagger thighs were specialized in hunting old rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses because of the body conformation of these pahiderme that would allow felines to use their bite in the optimal way, thus minimizing the risk of canine fractures.

A recent study in 2008 is advancing an unusual idea. It is possible that due to the frequent interactions between the members of the Smilodoni group, their huge corners have served as secondary sexual characters, having a suitable role rather as signaling, or acting as a weapon used by males in their duels for access to females. This is a common occurrence in some species of animals such as elephants, baboons, narcals, mosquitoes, wild boars or mosquito deer.

These imposing corners indicating a superspecialized carnivore led to their disappearance. The extinction of Megafauna left the daggers with daggers without specific leeches. No matter how strange it sounds, a Smilodon can not hunt wild goats, deer or wild boar because his enormous teeth do not allow him to kill a smaller, smaller batt that can struggle and ultimately fracture the neck the dreaded predator!

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