The Saber-Tooth Tigers, were massive, prehistoric feline predators that went extinct something like 10.000 or 11.000 years ago. Their most remarkable feature was a set of teeth that hung outside the animal’s mouth, right next to its jaw, on each side of it.
As is the case with most animal species that died out thousands, millions, or billions of years ago, the scientific community doesn’t know very much about the creature’s habits or biology. But every once in a while, a new piece of information comes to light.
And so, a recent study has now revealed that the Saber-Tooth Tiger, also referred to as the Saber-Tooth Cat or the Smilodon, was not only famous among other species for the physical appearance of its intimidating pearly whites, but also for how quickly they grew.
Researchers looked at the enamel in the Saber-Tooth Tiger’s teeth using x-ray imaging technology and isotopic analysis, and they found that the creatures grew its canines twice as fast as modern-day relatives such as the African Lion. The experts did mention however that the baby Saber-Tooth Tigers had to be at least 3 years old in order for their teeth to be fully formed and in place.
The animal first grew a set of baby teeth, which it lost somewhere between the age of 1 or 1 and a half, but the adult teeth started to grow even before the baby ones were completely shed off and finished growing when the creature got to be 3 or 3 and 1/2 years old. There was an 11 month faze when the Saber-Tooth Tiger held on to both sets of teeth.
Z. Jack Tseng, study co-author and researcher from the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Division of Paleontology, gave a statement informing that “For predators such as big cats, an important determinant of an individual’s full hunting ability is the time required to grow their weapons — their teeth”.
He went on to stress that this is an element crucial to understating all sabertoothed predators, including the Saber-Tooth Tiger.
The prehistoric creature’s outer teeth grew to be 7 inches (18 centimeters) long and served it well when it was hunting for food or fighting off other predators. According to Robert Feranec, study co-author and paleontologist with the New York State Museum, the scientific community generally believes that the animal used its giant teeth for biting down into the neck of its prey and severing several of its crucial veins and arteries in order to quickly kill it.
Feranec agrees with Tseng that timing of development is a critical element when it comes to the a big cat’s teeth as it affects many aspects of the animal’s ecology and evolution.
Z. Jack Tseng did also feel the need to point out how wide spread the extinct creature, as well as hint at people’s fascination with. He shared that Saber-Tooth Tiger most likely left its paw print on what we know today as Hollywood Boulevard, many, many years before Marilyn Monroe left her own hand print at the Chinese Theatre.
The prehistoric feline predator grew to be roughly the size of a modern-day tiger or lion, but had a much heavier build. Its back was stiffer, its limbs were more powerful, and its tail was stubby. Tseng simply, wisely and humorously describes it as lion that’s been put on steroids, that also happens to have “knives coming out of its mouth”.
The Saber-Tooth Tiger mostly fed on other animals, and actually preferred to hunt large ones such as camels and bison.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk