American saber-toothed marsupial tiger was expelled from predators

Tiger saber-toothed Thylacosmilus atrox, whose remains were discovered on the territory of modern Argentina, apparently, did not kill the prey, and was a scavenger, is reported in PeerJ. Judging by the wear pattern of its large fangs, the animal used them to tear off meat from the bones of corpses. Therefore, convergent similarity of smilodon (true sabre-toothed cats) and thylacosmilus now questioned.

For a long time (40 — 1 million years ago) among mammals there were forms in which the upper canines were much larger than other teeth. According to one of the main hypotheses, the animals used them to kill prey with a blow to the neck or in the abdomen: if hypertrophied canines beat the vertebrae, they could break.

Increase in canines arose independently in several groups, for example, Felines (machairodont), other extinct families of Carnivora (nimravid and barbourofelids), as well as some metatherian (sparassodonta, often called a saber-toothed marsupial, but actually sparassodonta not included in the infraclass of Marsupials). It is believed that between these families have convergent similarity, that is, they lived in similar conditions and took everyone in his community similar ecological niches — most likely, the niches are ambush predators.

Employees of several scientific organisations in the UK and USA, led by Stephen Lautenslager (Stephan Lautenschlager) from the University of Birmingham quantitatively, using correspondence analysis and the finite element method, and compared the details of the structure of skulls “marsupial saber-toothed tiger” Thylacosmilus atrox and true saber-toothed cats (e.g., Megantereon cultridens), modern feline (lion Panthera leo and other), barbourofelids (Barbourofelis morrisi) and nimravid (Hoplophoneus occidentalis). Only 20 species. The researchers determined the number of teeth of different types in each species, their shape, relative size, and shape and size of various holes and protrusions of the skull that affect the bite force and motion of the jaws.

To understand how to use the teeth of telecoil, the authors have created a three-dimensional model of his skull, and virtual tested it in three situations: when the animal tore at the victim’s teeth, when it pulled the head back (this movement is good for tearing tissue) and when shaking the head clamped in the jaws of the prey from side to side (it may be necessary to kill the victim). A similar model made for the smilodon.

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