A newly discovered sabertooth cat skull in Iowa reveals detailed information about an Ice Age predator

ከዘመናዊ አንበሳ የበለጠ ክብደት ያላቸው እነዚህ ትልልቅ ድመቶች አስፈሪ አዳኞች ነበሩ።  <a href= Daniel Eskridge/Stocktrack Images via Getty Images” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/Vs9SsI17R61zbYgFw_7Lrg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ0NA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/c894d9d7bb9c3d3dc3227c97cf16f68src=” data “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/Vs9SsI17R61zbYgFw_7Lrg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ0NA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/c894d9d7bb9c3d3dc3227c97c16f686f/>”

of The sabertooth cat is an Ice Age icon. And A symbol of strength, power and intelligence. These animals It shared the landscape of North America. Along with other large carnivores, short-faced bears, dire wolves, and the American lion, as well as megaherbivore mammoths, mastodon, muskoxen, and long-horned bison. Then 50,000 to 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene, They all disappeared. Now the only place to see them is in the fossil record.

Carnivore fossils are extremely rare compared to predators. Predators always outnumber predators in a healthy ecosystem. Therefore, the chances of burial, storage and retrieval of carnivore bones and teeth are slim compared to plant extracts.

Scientists have found sabertooth fossils to be relatively small and scattered. The difference comes from Lancho La Brea in downtown Los Angeles 1,000 individual sabertooths They are trapped in a death trap.

That’s why the remarkable sabertooth cat skull recently found in southwest Iowa is so interesting. of Smilodon fatalis The skull was collected from Pleistocene sand and gravel exposed along the East Nishnabotna River. My colleague, Biologist David A. Esterla, and I they are. Study this sample to learn more So the life story of an ancient predator, prey choice and eventual extinction.

The latest sabertooth discovery is a complete cranium, although it is missing one of its eponymous sabers.  Chris Gannon, ISU News Service

The latest sabertooth discovery is a complete cranium, although it is missing one of its eponymous sabers. Chris Gannon, ISU News Service

Clues from the cranium

The animal’s common name – the sabertooth cat – comes from the very distinctive saber-like canine teeth that protrude from the mouth to 5 or 6 inches (13 to 15 centimeters).

Sabertooths are sexually dimorphic, with Men are generally larger than women. The Iowa skull is larger than many adult men from Rancho La Brea. Many of the bones of the skull are not packed together and the teeth are basically unworn, which leads us to believe that the individual was definitely between 2 and 3 years old and still growing.

We estimate the weight to be 550 pounds (250 kg). This is more than 110 pounds (50 kg). Average adult male African lion. Given a few years to fill out his mature, soft skin, he might have tipped the scales at 650 pounds (300 kilograms).

Observations of life cycles Modern lions and tigers This suggests that the sabertooth is newly independent or has been living independently.

Sabertooths may have lived and hunted in groups like modern lions - but all other modern cats live a more solitary lifestyle.  <a href=jez_bennett/iStock via Getty Images Plus” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/.8K5FFesXDwlstUwugg7NQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/f17c0396a28e08400e0997a2bfbb74d3″ >

However, it is debatable whether the Sabertooth stuck together as a group or was solitary. Controversy surrounds how much of a size difference there is between men and women. In many animals, Males are usually larger than females Like modern lions in male controlled harems. In the case of sabertooths, some scholars distinguish this. Obvious sexual dimorphism between the sexes And these ancient cats lived in groups, similar to today’s lions. Other researchers see only small size differences and look at sabertooth cats Generally as solitary huntersMaybe like tigers and other felines.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that by age 2 or 3, the cat is clearly armed—jaws and paws—and capable of taking down large prey alone. He must have gained hunting experience first when his mother found him, beat her, ambushed him and protected the carcass, then with her help and finally watched alone. His learning curve was probably like that of lions and tigers as he matured in body and character.

Hunting for survival has a high price. Repeated failure means death by starvation. And attacking large predators armed with defensive weapons like horns, antlers, hooves and trunks is always dangerous and sometimes fatal. For example, a recent study of 166 modern lion skulls from Zambia found that 68 had healed or partially healed wounds from hunting. To put it another way, 40% of them survived a severe head injury Another day to hunt.

One of this cat's distinctive claws broke before it died.  Chris Gannon, ISU News Service

One of this cat’s distinctive claws broke before it died. Chris Gannon, ISU News Service

A saber in Iowa’s skull is broken and a canine tooth protrudes from the roof of the mouth. Morphological details of the fracture edges indicate injury around the time of death of this animal. The break may be related to a defensive wound due to a well-placed hoof, horn, horn or swat of a prey animal. Since the straw was not worn, the encounter may have even killed the cat.

Additional technical analysis provides additional information

A technique called Stable isotope analysis Based on the amount of isotopes in a tooth or bone, researchers can determine what an animal ate and where it lived.

Andrew SomervilleAn isotopic biochemistry specialist is leading this effort at Sabertot, Iowa. Our group hunts sabertooth cats in this area Jefferson’s ground sloth, huge, wooden and solitary explorer. With adults weighing around a ton, their size might be a deterrent to other predators – but not necessarily to sabertooths. Sharp sabers up to the neck could have killed the sloth, let alone its size.

My natural science colleagues and I are developing diet-wide mixing models. Using carbon and nitrogen isotopes preserved in Ice Age carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore bones from southwestern Iowa, our models show how sabertooths, short-faced bears, and dire wolves searched for the same prey, the habitat they sought, and how these food-web relationships collapsed at the end of the Ice Age. could be.

Radiocarbon dating The Iowa sabertooth dates back to 13,605 to 13,455 years ago. Among the last of its kind To walk in the western hemisphere. Fewer dates—but not many—come from Rancho La Brea, in eastern Brazil, and as far south as Chile.

These are the days of Sebertots and the first people who infiltrated these places – Clovis herders in North America And Fishtail foragers in South America – shared the landscape for a short time. People probably chanced on sabertooth tracks, scattered, and killed over and over again. Perhaps a few lucky people have watched the magnificent animal go through life. But neither knew what the future held.

After the arrival of humans, the big cat disappeared from both continents. It is difficult to determine the final cause of death, and several factors were definitely at play. But, at least with sabertooths, the extinction was a hemisphere-wide, synchronized event that occurred in a geologic moment, perhaps just over 1,000 or 2,000 years, making it difficult to tie humans directly or indirectly to extinction.

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

This article was reprinted from The conversation, an independent non-profit news site for sharing ideas from academic experts. The discussion is honest news from an expert, independent non-profit. Try our free newsletter.

Written by: Matthew G. Hill, Iowa State University.

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Matthew G. Hill does not work for, consult with, own stock in, or receive financial support from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant relationships beyond his academic appointment.

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