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Re: Sabretooth

The wonderful Mary (Great to see at Mexico City) said...

>>> <MKIRKALDY@aol.com> 11/28/00 03:11PM >>>
In a message dated Tue, 28 Nov 2000  2:07:46 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
Chapman.Ralph@NMNH.SI.EDU writes:

> I thought it interesting that they thought they had
> only one chance to do the killing in each body 
> section they thought was a possibility. They did the 
> belly kill attempt first and when it didn't seem to 
> work, gave up. 
I think that it was at this point that Larry Martin said that by positioning 
at this angle of attack, they would have broken the Smilodon's neck.  

Then they switched to a higher attack level, where they did the one attempt. I 
also think biting the flank of a live side that is reacting to gravity would 
provide a lot more easy insertion and cutting possibilities than a dead guy 
lying on the ground. There's just more chance to get a good fold to bite 

Some of this research was presented at SVP in Mexico City, with much more 
technical data than was included on the Discovery program.  Todd Wheeler (the 
paleo-engineer) was the speaker on "Confirmation of Saber-tooth Killing Bite 
Theories by Re-enactment."  He showed slides but not the video, which was 
embargoed because of the broadcast.

> little. I missed if they did any testing of bite 
> force and compared with inferred forces from an 
> actual skeleton. 
This was presented at SVP but not on the program.  Wheeler had configured the 
backhoe/loader so that the bite forces could be varied.  

I figured this was too easy to do right for them not to. The guy was pretty 
sharp as far as I could tell, may contact him on some dino stuff. It is not 
unreasonable to use metal without muscles to achieve the bone and muscle effect 
as far as being able to produce the bite and not fall apart. 

> I also somehow missed how they manufactured the fake
> sabreteeth and whether these would react to stresses 
> the same way the real teeth would. I don't think they
> mentioned any of it 
Probably thought too boring for viewers.

Shame - I'll have to think about a reasonable faux sabretooth that would have 
the same strengths and weaknesses of a real tooth for trying out the bites with 
organismal like constraints. Perhaps just get a system where you can record the 
levels of stress/torque etc during the attack and see if they exceed reasonable 
levels for the teeth.

One of the other talks at SVP (the Sacco/Van Valkenburgh one?) mentioned the 
possibility that the canines served a display function, and that the animal 
with the jaw at full gape could not see what it was biting into--affecting 
the precision bite that would be needed in the above scenario.

If you got em might as well flaunt them, but I cannot see them only serving 
that purpose. Aren't sharks unable to see their prey while biting as well? If 
you got a grip on a fold of skin or a neck, don't need to see, just gotta do 
it. {Didn't Yoda say this? I guess it was there is no try, just do}.

I also liked the footage (seen before) of the tigers trying to get that young 
elephant, tackling it and then unable to pierce the hide. Would give me a bad 
feeling towards them for the rest of my life and suspect, given the brains of 
elephants, that there will be payback time from that calf sometime.

Ralph Chapman

Ralph E. Chapman
Applied Morphometrics Laboratory
National Museum of Natural history
ADP, EG-15  NHB, 10th & Constitution, NW
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20560-0136
(202) 786-2293, Fax: (202) 357-4122