Long in the tooth: evolution of sabertooth cat cranial shape

  title={Long in the tooth: evolution of sabertooth cat cranial shape},
  author={Graham J. Slater and Blaire Van Valkenburgh},
Abstract Sabertooths exhibit one of the most extreme feeding adaptations seen in mammals. The functional consequences of accommodating extremely elongate upper canine teeth are severe, resulting in a well-documented suite of cranial modifications. We used geometric morphometric methods to study the evolution of overall shape in the skulls of extant and extinct feline and machairodontine felids, as well as extinct nimravids. Trends in skull evolution were evaluated by using relative warps… 

Evolution of Skull and Mandible Shape in Cats (Carnivora: Felidae)

It is shown that the shape of the skull and mandible in derived sabrecats occupy entirely different positions within overall morphospace from feline cats, and that the evolution of skull andMandible shape has followed very different paths in the two subgroups.

Static scaling and the evolution of extreme canine size in a saber-toothed cat (Smilodon fatalis).

  • Devin M. O'Brien
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Integrative and comparative biology
  • 2019
How static scaling relationships can be useful, reliable tools for inferring patterns of selection, especially in fossil organisms, and evidence that extreme canine size in saber-toothed cats was not the product of selection for effective sexual signals, but instead evolved as a either a pure intrasexually selected weapon or hunting tool are provided.

An eye for a tooth: Thylacosmilus was not a marsupial “saber-tooth predator”

The results indicate that despite its impressive canines, the Thylacosmilus atrox was not the ecological analogue of placental saber-tooth, and likely did not use its canines to dispatch its prey.

Morphological convergence obscures functional diversity in sabre-toothed carnivores

A suite of biomechanical simulations are used to analyse key functional parameters (mandibular gape angle, bending strength, bite force) to compare the functional performance of different groups and to quantify evolutionary rates across sabre-tooth vertebrates.

The Making of a Monster: Postnatal Ontogenetic Changes in Craniomandibular Shape in the Great Sabercat Smilodon

Postnatal ontogenetic craniomandibular shape changes in two morphologically derived sabercats, Smilodon fatalis and S. populator, were analysed using geometric morphometrics and compared to three species of extant pantherines.

Directional selection in the evolution of elongated upper canines in clouded leopards and sabre‐toothed cats

This work hypothesized that directional selection generated the elongated upper canines of clouded leopards in a manner similar to the process in extinct sabre‐toothed cats, and developed an approach that compared the effect of directional selection among lineages in a phylogeny using a simulation of trait evolution and approximate Bayesian computation.

Morphological convergence of the prey-killing arsenal of sabertooth predators

Results indicate that sabertooth morphs with longer, thinner canines show more robust limb proportions, and indicate a positive functional relationship between saber elongation and increased forelimb robustness, which suggests that saber carnivorans demonstrated niche partitioning of predation strategies according to canine shape and correspondingForelimb morphology.

Evolution in the sabre‐tooth cat, Smilodon fatalis, in response to Pleistocene climate change

Mandibles of Smilodon fatalis from RLB are analysed using 2‐D geometric morphometrics to examine whether, and how, mandibular shape changes through time, and to have important implications for the timing or conditions during the extinction event.

Covariation in the Skull Modules of Cats: The Challenge of Growing Saber-Like Canines

The striking convergence between independent sabertooth radiations indicates that elongation of the canines influenced interspecific skull shape variation in different lineages but in a similar way.



Locomotor behaviour in Plio-Pleistocene sabre-tooth cats: a biomechanical analysis

The locomotor behaviour of some large extinct carnivores, including several species of Plio-Pleistocene sabre-tooth cats, is here reconstructed, based on a comparison of the cross-sectional geometric

Functional analysis of sabertooth cranial morphology

This analysis suggests that sabertooth morphology represents modification for wider gape with retention of a pow- erful bite force at the carnassial, and elongate canines and retractile claws may have facilitated the exploitation of relatively larger prey by saberooths compared to non-sabertooth carnivores.

Aspects of the functional morphology in the cranial and cervical skeleton of the sabre‐toothed cat Paramachairodus ogygia (Kaup, 1832) (Felidae, Machairodontinae) from the Late Miocene of Spain: implications for the origins of the machairodont killing bite

The skull and cervical anatomy of the sabre-toothed felid Paramachairodus ogygia (Kaup, 1832) is described in this paper, with special attention paid to its functional morphology. Because of the


Differences in cranial morphology suggest separation at the generic level between M. aphanistus and M. giganteus, suggesting that the specialized canines of M. ansonistus were used within the context of a biting mechanism more similar to the canine bite of modern felids.

Canine tooth strength and killing behaviour in large carnivores

The canines of sabretooth cats are shown to be more similar in shape and strength characteristics to those of living canids than felids, whereas those of the borophagine dogs and the dire wolf are closer to modern hyaenas.

Functional Morphology and the Evolution of Cats

Three basic morpho types are proposed for cats on the basis of their upper canines: conical-toothed cats with short, unserrated canines having a round cross-section; scimitar-tooting cats having short, broad canines; and dirk­ toothed cats having long, slender canines which usually have fine serrations.

Evolution of skull shape in carnivores: 1. Representative modern carnivores

Two functional hypotheses are proposed: mustelids and felids have the most powerful bites and canids the weakest among the four family groups studied; and visual abilities are best developed among felids and least developed amongmustelids.

Déjà vu: the evolution of feeding morphologies in the Carnivora

A survey of the fossil record indicates that large hypercarnivores evolve frequently, often in response to ecological opportunity afforded by the decline or extinction of previously dominant hyperc Carnivorous taxa.

Incisor size and shape: implications for feeding behaviors in saber-toothed “cats”

Results demonstrate that the shape of individual upper incisors of extant carnivorans is intricately related to the dental arcade in which the teeth are rooted, and it is proposed that the strength of the medial inc is in part a consequence of arcade shape.