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Newly discovered sabertooth cat skull in Iowa reveals details about this Ice Age predator


The final saber-tooth find is a complete skull, albeit missing one of the swords of the same name. Credit: Chris Gannon, ISU News Service

the The sabertooth cat is a symbol of the Ice Age And Motto of strength, perseverance and intelligence. these animals Share the scene in North America With other large carnivores, including short-faced bears, dire wolves, and the American lion, as well as giant carnivores including mammoths, mastodons, muskoxen, and longhorn bison. Then at the end of the Pleistocene, between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, They all disappeared. The only place to see them now is in the fossil record.

Fossils of carnivores are extremely rare compared to those of their prey. Prey is always more abundant than predators in a healthy ecosystem. So the probability of carnivorous bones and teeth being buried, stored and discovered is small compared to those of herbivores.

Scientists have a relatively small and sparse stock of sabertooth fossils. The exception comes from Rancho La Brea in downtown Los Angeles, where it’s finished 1000 individual shavings They were mired in tar death traps.

This is why the recent discovery of a remarkable cat skull in southwest Iowa is so exciting. A Smilodon fatalis skull was collected from Late Pleistocene sand and gravel exposed along the East Nishnabotna River. my colleague , Biologist David AAnd And me We are Study this sample to learn more About the life history, prey selection, and eventual extinction of this ancient predator.

The clues from the skull

The animal’s common name – the saber-toothed cat – comes from its very distinctive, saber-like canine teeth that protrude from the mouth as far as 5 or 6 inches (13 to 15 cm).

Sabertooths are sexually dimorphic, with Males are generally larger than females. Iowa’s skull is larger than that of many adult males from Rancho La Brea. Many of the bones of the skull have not fused together and the teeth are essentially unworn, which leads us to believe that this individual was definitely a young man of about 2 to 3 years old who was still growing.

We estimate that he weighed 550 lb (250 kg). That’s over 110 lb (50 kg) larger than the Average adult male African lion. Given a few years for him to mature and plump up loose skin, he may have tipped the scales at 650 pounds (300 kilograms).

Life cycle notes modern black and tigers Suggest that this sounding was newly independent or on the cusp of independent living.

However, whether sabertooths stuck together in groups or were solitary is hotly debated. The dispute revolves around how much difference in size there is between males and females. in many living animals, Males are usually larger than females in harems dominated by males, as in modern lions. In the case of sabertooths, some scientists specify this Pronounced sexual dimophisim gender She claims that these ancient cats lived in groups, similar to today’s lions. Other researchers see only slight differences in size and display sabertooth cats Generally as solitary predatorsLike tigers and all other felines, maybe.

Newly discovered sabertooth cat skull in Iowa reveals details about this Ice Age predator

One of this cat’s signature swords was cut before he died. Credit: Chris Gannon, ISU News Service

Whatever the case, at two or three years of age, the cat clearly has the arms—jaws and paws—and the heft to take down large prey on its own. He likely gained hunting experience by first watching his mother locate, stalk, ambush, kill and defend the carcasses, then perhaps with her help and, finally, on her own. Perhaps its learning curve is much like that of lions and tigers as they mature both physically and behaviorally.

Research for survival is high stakes. Repeated failure means starvation. Attacking large prey equipped with defensive equipment such as horns, horns, hooves and trunks is always dangerous and sometimes fatal. For example, a recent study of 166 modern lion skulls from Zambia revealed that 68 skulls had healed or partially healed injuries associated with taking down prey. put another way, 40% experienced major head trauma to hunt another day.

A saber is cut into Aiwa’s skull as the canine tooth sticks out from the roof of the mouth. Morphological detail of the fracture edges indicates damage that occurred around the time of this animal’s death. It is likely that the fracture was related to a defensive wound thanks to a prey animal’s hoof, horn, horn, or swat. Since the heel was not worn, the encounter may have caused the cat’s death.

Additional technical analysis gives more information

technology called Stable isotope analysis It allows researchers to find out what the animal ate and even where it lived based on the ratios of isotopes in its teeth or bones.

Andrew Somerville, an isotopic biochemist, is leading the effort with the Iowa sabertooth. Our team suspects that the sounding cats in this area would have focused their hunting on Lazy Jefferson Ground, a huge, cumbersome and lonely browser. With adults weighing about a ton, their size may have been a major deterrent to other predators—but not necessarily to carnivores. Sharp swords on the neck can kill sloths, damn the size.

My colleagues and I are also developing what natural science researchers call diet-breadth mixing models. Using stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen preserved in Pleistocene carnivores, herbivores, and carnivores from southwestern Iowa, our models should tell us whether saber-toothed wolves, short-faced bears, and dire wolves compete for the same prey, and the habitats in which they searched for prey, Perhaps how these food bonds collapsed at the end of the Ice Age.

Radiocarbon indicates that this sabertooth in Iowa lived between 13,605 and 13,455 years ago, making it Among the newest of its kind To walk in the Western Hemisphere. Slightly smaller dates – but not by much – come from Rancho La Brea, eastern Brazil and far south Chile.

These dates mean Saber Al-Sufouh and the first to infiltrate these places –Clovis forage in North America And Fishtail forage in South AmericaShare the scene for a short period of time. People probably came across sabertooth tracks, slobs and kills now and then. Perhaps a few lucky people have noticed that a wonderful animal is spinning in its life. But no one knows what the future holds.

The big cat disappeared from both continents shortly after people arrived. It is difficult to pinpoint the ultimate reason for the downtime, and multiple factors were definitely at play. However, at least with the teeth of a brace, we can say that the extinction was a simultaneous event at the hemispheric level and occurred at a geological moment, perhaps over only 1,000 or 2,000 years, making it difficult to directly or indirectly link people to death.

The Iowa skull, along with other fossil evidence from the area and observations of modern large carnivores, has shed new light on the life history and behavior of sabertooth cats. Ongoing research promises to provide additional clues about the diet and ecology of this iconic predator.

Introduction to the conversation

This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence. Read the The original article.Conversation

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