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Saber-toothed cats and big theropods (was Re: Various minor subjects)



> You might want to find scholarly references to
> predation by saber-toothed cats.  A TV show and a
> coffee-table book are not good guides in this.

Of course I want; the "show" was quite scientific (not even at Prime Time,
not even by Discovery Channel), and the book could have been better, but it
goes way beyond any popular science books I've seen so far.

> Other than ill or trapped animals, I'm not so sure
> that live mammoths would be suitable prey for
> saber-toothed cats.  Too big and powerful.  Why risk
> being killed by your prey animal?  A bison seems like
> a more likely ambitious prey animal for _S. fatalis_,
> for instance.

Of course a mammoth is "too big and powerful" for *ONE* saber-toothed cat.
What about a pack? (I don't know about any evidence for or against packing
behavior in saber-toothed cats, but a pack of _Allosaurus_ or
_Giganotosaurus_ should have been capable of killing just about anything.)
As mentioned before onlist, a pack of lions can kill an adult elephant (but
rarely does so -- after all, lions don't have saber teeth).

> And how is a sabertooth's array of teeth even remotely
> similar to that of, say, _Giganotosaurus carolinii_?
> Please be specific.  Thanks.

I suspect evolutionary constraints: Saber teeth are canines, and
saber-toothed cats apparently still chewed -- they retained the carnassials.
Only the canines had the potential to be lengthened. On the other side,
saber teeth are enormously long compared to skull size. Theropods had only
saber teeth, so to say, didn't chew, and the individual teeth were
relatively smaller. Theropod teeth hardly had identities, in contrast to a
mammal where you can say that a saber tooth is homologous to my canine and
not the tooth in front or behind of the canine, so all looked more or less
the same in size and shape.