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Saber-toothed Cat Was More Like A Pussycat Than A Tiger

Saber-toothed catIn public imagination, the saber-toothed cat Smilodon ranks alongside Tyrannosaurus rex as the ultimate killing machine. Powerfully built, with upper canines like knives, Smilodon was a fearsome predator of Ice-Age America's lost giants.

Using the skull of a modern-day lion for comparison, scientists have determined that Smilodon had a relatively weak bite - about one third as powerful as a lion of similar size. "For all its reputation, Smilodon had a wimpy bite" says Dr Wroe. "It bit like a moggy."

In a range of "digital crash-tests", the team found that under most conditions, the saber-tooth skull performed very poorly compared to that of the lion. This would have seriously limited the big toothed fossil cat to a very specific range of killing behaviors.

Although its bite was weak, this is not to imply Smilodon was not was a formidable predator. "The sabercat had an immensely powerful body; perfect for wrestling large prey to the ground, and our models show that it needed to do this before trying a bite, "explains Mr McHenry.ā€¯Killing was more likely applied to the prey's throat, because it is easier to restrain the prey this way. Once the bite was done the prey would have died almost instantly."

Source: ScienceDaily
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