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Re: Dromaeosaur "sickle" claws

Michael wrote:
> Most cats kill by suffocation.  This includes the muzzle as well as
> the neck.  Here fangs are used to hold on.  I don't know of any
> extant cat that kills by stabbing.  Supposedly saber toothed cats did
> although, AFAIK, no ones knows for certain how they actually did that
> either.

Smaller species of cat go for the back of the neck (much like birds
of prey). They insert their teeth between the cervical vertebrae.
This seems to be possible only at small scales, since the larger
canines of big cats lack the needle-point sharpness, and the material
teeth are made of (dentine?) seems to be stronger at smaller scales
(much like silicon, at nano-scales it is stronger than steel,
at macro-scales it is quite brittle). Studies of sabre-tooth
cat teeth show that they could not nave stood the stresses of being
inserted between the neck vertebrae of large mammalian prey, hence
the "stab and slash" hypothesis.

A while back there was a discussion of whether extant predators
ever attack the spinal colomn. I didn't think of the small cats at
the time.


        Dann Pigdon
        Melbourne, Australia