Vox: How saber-toothed tigers grew their mouth swords

A study reveals that the dagger-like upper fangs of the saber-toothed cat are much like today’s wild cats.

This most recent study examined one of the three species of sabre-toothed tigers that scientists are aware of: Smilodon fatalis.

Previous studies show that even if the tiger can grew their teeth fast, it is weaker than domestic felines.

The Smilodon fatalis, one of the more well-known and studied saber-toothed cats, lived in the Americas until about 10,000 years ago. They are particularly famous for their overhung canines that could grow up to 18 cm or 7 inches long.

The extinct tigers had two sets of teeth during its lifetime, like many other mammals.

Another group of researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia used X-Ray analysis, oxygen isotope tests, and a computer modern when studying several saber-toothed cat fossils.

Saber-toothed tigers have one of the most self-explanatory names in the animal kingdom, but scientists are still fascinated by the prehistoric cat’s knife-like teeth. Cubs whose teeth hadn’t developed yet were at a high risk from predators, and likely spent their time tucked away in a den. However, what’s truly remarkable is that the saber-tooth’s teeth grew an estimated 6 millimeters a month. The findings, for the first time, provide specific ages for developmental dental events in Smilodon. Paleontologists believe the techniques applied may be useful in understanding the growth rate and development of other extinct species. Jack Tseng, one of the authors, of the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Paleontology. Smilodon is believed to have used them to bite the neck and sever crucial arteries and veins to kill prey quickly, palaeontologist Robert Feranec of the New York State Museum said.

Saber toothed cats are nearly the same size as the modern day lion or tiger however they possess heavier builds where they leap on their prey and latch on with their powerful paws and legs.

Smilodon grew a set of baby teeth before permanent ones grew in. These Sabers were dropped at 1 to ½ years of age, while the adult Sabers were beginning to erupt before the baby Sabers’ teeth were shed, which shows that the life of both Sabers was approximately 3 to 3-1/2 years.

‘Cats living today have canines that are shorter and round in cross section, so they can withstand forces in all directions, ‘ said Julie Meachen. Surprisingly, the ancient animals were unable to hunt until age three when their deadly-looking fangs were fully functional.


p style=”text-align: center;”>Impressive Sabers Yet Weak and Slow To Grow for Ancient Saber-tooth Cats


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