Showing posts with label Saber-toothed tiger .. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saber-toothed tiger .. Show all posts

Thylacosmilus and curious history.

When there are two animals that are very similar in weight, size, physical characteristics and occupying the same ecological niche but living in different places and have a different origin, we call this phenomenon convergent evolution. An example would be that we can illustrate the flight of pterodactyls and bats, both fly in a similar way but come from families, genera and different orders.

Well, now let's focus on the case of Thylacosmilus ... if we saw in reality, across the road in front of our house, we might seem an early saber-toothed, a prehistoric Smilodon... But although its appearance was similar, their underclass, order, family, are different Sabertooth Tiger. The Thylacosmilus had nothing to do with the Smilodon, was actually a marsupial and even looked like Sabretooth, was evolutionarily closer to that of a kangaroo Sabretooth we know.

This prehistoric animal appeared in South America about 7 million years ago, when it was an island that was separate from North America. It was stocky, though not enough the Smilodon, as large as the current Cougars and had fangs shaped knives about 15 cm, but unlike the Smilodon, Thylacosmilus fangs did not stop growing. In addition, the fangs are embedded in a cavity having the jaw bone and giving it a very peculiar appearance to its skull. In fact, its name means "pouch saber", referring to this feature.
Possibly be true that were the apex predator in South America, but this lasted until which lasted insulation island continent. This occurred in the late Pliocene and Central America new species were introduced from the north, including a saber-toothed cat but also bigger, more corpulent and willing to put at the top of the food chain. The Thylacosmilus rival, the known Smilodon, had arrived and soon took the place of the predator.

Saber-toothed tiger or Smilodon

We talked of many prehistoric animals in this blog, since Anomalocaris of more than 500 million years, to the bird Moa, who died just over 500 years. Yes it is true that we speak of Smilodon, when we saw the American Cave Lion. But I thought that it was time to talk only to Smilodon, the saber-toothed tiger authentic.

Within the genus Smilodon, which means "saber tooth" we find three species: the Smilodon gracilis ("Smilodon thin"), Smilodon fatalis and the close cousin and we like the Smilodon populator.

From now on, when we speak of the saber-toothed tiger, we refer to Smilodon populator.

The sabertooth  was arguably the most specialized of all feline. Its body was robust, very, very robust. To get an idea of how strong it was, a male Bengal tiger now average just over 720 lb (320 kg). A Sabertooth, the same size as the tiger can weigh up to 900 lb (400 kg). The 160 lb (80 kg) of difference, are practically muscle. It would be like a tiger that had taken steroids.
But it is so strong not due to a whim of nature or to devote himself to do pushups every day, no. The sabertooth musculature, is related to their prey, nature is wise.

These two features together (teeth and muscles), made ​​of Smilodon a predator of big beasts. Giant sloths, horses, bison and even prehistoric mammoths fell into your diet. The way they hunted the megafauna in South America was by ambuscade *. Surprised their prey and reached for one of its sides. It hitched with their long claws and a hook and tugged them until toppled. When for example the mammoth was shot down, penetrating its teeth in the throat. Then the neck stretched and tore, ripping and neck veins and trachea.

Even being a prehistoric predator able to hunt large animals, Sabretooth had to deal with other predators that, individually or in groups, could snatch the prey ... Bears like Bulldog, or the giant wolf.

But competition was not the reason for their disappearance. The reason was specialization. Was not able to run long distance, as the climate of Earth was warming up (from the peak of the last ice age) the megafauna began to disappear. And apparently, men hunted large prey and therefore, were a problem to those who already had the Smilodon. The Smilodon appeared 1 million years ago and disappeared 10,000 years ago.

 It is thought that the Sabertooth tiger hunting in ambuscade because he was a great runner. The huge muscles had generated much heat and would have suffocated in long races. Also, cats have a long tail serves for balance, while also running. The tail of Smilodon did not exceed 35 cm, for experts have concluded that there was a good runner.
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