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Re: Saber-toothed cats and big theropods



>   Not the reason, in my estimation. It's because of the size disparity.
> And before we get into useless speculating about the ability of a
> sabre- or dirktooth cat being able to take down mammoths, using lions
> for a point of reference no doubt, you gotta take in stock that one of
> the _big_ reasons lions don't make a habit out of eating elephants is
> because they are so much _smaller_ than the potential prey, and when an
> eleven ton animal doesn't want to be eaten and you have some palty 3-4
> 300lb critters coming after it, the disparity is negligible. When one
> considers the prey to have the strength to _pull up trees_, then lions
> take heed, always have. It is not the norm for a reason, and
> extrapolating a _very_ rare occurence as allowing the possibility for
> an entirely different animal and biomass ratio and equippage, then
> you're getting far afield.

I only used the lion example to show that carnivores of that size *can* *in
principle* kill elephant-sized prey. And "eleven ton"s for an elephant
sounds like very, very much. Eleven US tons (assuming you mean these) are
nearly 10 tonnes! The highest number for the weight of full-grown African
elephant bulls that I've read so far is 7 tonnes.

> <I suspect evolutionary constraints: Saber teeth are canines, and
> saber-toothed cats apparently still chewed -- they retained the
> carnassials.>
>
>   Carnassials are not chewing teeth, they are not something retained.
> They are derived shearing mechanisms for which are the hallmark of the
> carnivores. Cat's can't chew, and for that matter, neither can dogs.
> They slice their food in strips or small chunks and _swallow_ the bits.
> They swallow bits we _do_ have to chew to swallow. Cats, relative to
> dogs, are hypercarnivores: they are adapted to eat meat, and they can
> eat very little else, becuase they lack to ability to process any other
> form of food outside of flesh.

AFAIK, carnassials are homologous to molars (or premolars -- please correct
me if I'm wrong), and saber-toothed cats did not lose these.

> <Only the canines had the potential to be lengthened.>

Okay, this formulation was silly. I meant "only the canines had the
potential to become ziphodont".

:-)