Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Sabertooth cats and other extinct mammals

  1. Nov 13, 2007 #1
    Were does a thread go on extinct animals? It's not 'bio' anymore. So perhaps the Earth files.

    The first of December a new 28000 words book is being launched in The Netherlands, title: The Homotherium, Saber-toothed Cat. It's Dutch of course, but it's already translated. A short fragment:

    But it was a saber-toothed cat, Homotherium latidens to be exact, carbon dated around 28300 years. Unheard of, since the youngest Homotherium fossil in Europe is about 300,000 years old. This was the direct incentive to write that book.

    So what do you want to know about this subfamily Machairodontina of the Felidae family?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2007 #2
    It's easy to see the major difference between an European cave lion mandible and that particular jaw bone here about which that fragment tells about.

    There is a good reason why the top of back side of the Sabertooth is much flatter compared to all other predators, actually all other mammals in general, with a distinct vertical part at the back. It needed to open its mouth real real wide >100 degrees to bring the large canines into biting position. A strong elevated back side of the mandible would have prevented that.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2007
  4. Nov 14, 2007 #3

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Homotherium serum was extant in North America to circa 10000 years ago, AFAIK.
    H latidens, was still around, too. I thought it went extinct further back. I guess not.

    This paleontologist's blog talks about late survival in Europe. The Isturitz statuette pictured on his site is obviously a contemporary felid.... it's does appear to be Homotherium, or something like him.

    There is clearly something important I am missing here - that you are implying. Is there some question about the validaity of the new find?

  5. Nov 14, 2007 #4
    Mind I was talking about Europe not North America where also Smilodon fatalis, S. californicus roamed the countryside. That link tells about the same story. And yes there was a big fuss to get the discovery recognized.

    The book is about the history and devellopment of the complete subfamily thoughout the Cenozoic. It elaborates about some dozen finding sites, and it also covers the other evidence of late Homotherium in Europe like the statuette and some more.

    Another element in the book is the reconstruction of an anatomical correct live size model, of which I took some pictures:

    edit: the pictures:

    Last edited: Nov 14, 2007
  6. Nov 14, 2007 #5

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Are the model's fur patterns based on the statuette, pieces of preserved hide, or artistic license? Existing boreal felids are not like that at all.
  7. Nov 15, 2007 #6
    The manuscript:"The felines of the warmer biotopes often have furs with variations of a brown to yellow color. Therefore, the usual depiction of Smilodon is with a brown fur.

    Consequently, with Smilodon as example, Homotherium is also depicted with a brown fur. But would this be correct?

    The predators of the colder biotopes, like the wolf, and the snow panther tend to have furs in various shades of grey.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2007
  8. Nov 15, 2007 #7


    User Avatar

    I'm sure a moderator can combine the posts for you.

    it's nice looking at visual data, but is the fact that we are not discussing the validity of the data mean that Andre's convinced? Is the fur purely artist representation?
  9. Nov 15, 2007 #8

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    After asking around among some folks I know, I vote for artistic license. According to folks at the Natural History Museum, there are no known cave paintings of Homotherium.
    As my older kids say, "bummer."

    Apparently a lot of reconstructions use the paintings as a color guide for models of pleistocene aurochs, etc. After all, those guys were eyewitnesses. I'd like to know for sure, too, if that's possible.
  10. Nov 15, 2007 #9

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    And note: Greg B. showed up online today. He seems able to fix most problems. Although it really sounds to me like you got a new keyboard and the drivers are not right.
  11. Nov 16, 2007 #10
    #1 - I'd say that the difference between "various shades of grey" and, for instance, orange-purple is the difference between educated guess and artistic licence.

    #2 - The problem was identical on two completely independent computers.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2007
  12. Nov 16, 2007 #11

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Through the same internet connection (routers, etc)? You seem to be able to post now, and noone else had the problem - AFAIK. That limits it to something common to your independent computers. Or the revenge of the spirit of Homotherium.... :smile:

    -- I lived for years with people who would opt for the second statement blaming spirits as an absolutely perfect explanation for your problem. FWIW.
  13. Nov 16, 2007 #12
    No, computers were ~5 km apart (home - work). But likely from the same German provider. Have seen compatibility problems before
  14. Nov 26, 2007 #13
    Some impressions of the Dutch version.

    I see that they called it the "Sabeltand-tijger" instead of the "Sabeltand-kat" from the North sea. Tiger is formally nonsense because the sabretooths are a seperate group and no more related to tigers than lions or panthers. They are not even more closely related to the clouded leopard, the cat with the longest canines (relative to the body)
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
  15. Dec 12, 2007 #14
    Meanwhile I'm translating the picture captions now. The English version should be available in March 2008.
  16. Jan 17, 2008 #15
    We're still on track. Just finished the first version of the final draft. Whew. Big discussions about the Friesenhahn cave near Austin, the La Brea tarpits. Was the Homotherium latidens a social hunter like the lion, the hyena or the wolf? His sort of hyena type of body shape, -long distance runner- suggests so, but most cats are solitary although recent observations with tigers reveals that they are less solitary than generally assumed.
  17. Mar 1, 2008 #16
    So I got a mail from the publisher yesterday, the lay out of the book is ready except...

    He totally forgot to give us the abstract on the back cover. So I translated that today with high priority. It goes like this (first preliminary rough draft):

    Of course it will be completely overhauled by a native tongue editor.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2008
  18. Mar 31, 2008 #17
    Today I received the PDF with the final draft for a last scrutiny round. It's indeed an awsome book, actually many many pictures, paintings and drawings with some text in between, encompassing about everything what is known about saber toothed cats. the preface of Prof Alan Turner was new to me. His final remark:

  19. Apr 14, 2008 #18
    Well, the final draft has been corrected and the book is in print.
  20. May 29, 2008 #19
    Meanwhile, Dick Mol recieved the first book from the publisher. He was elated. The quality of the print is much better, he says, than the original Dutch version. In the next week the bulk of the books will arrive from China.
  21. Jul 12, 2008 #20
    Re: Sabertooths

    Got my copy now too and indeed my name is in it. Interesting, they made only the big canine on the front cover glossy while the rest is dim giving a remarkeble perpective.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Sabertooth cats and other extinct mammals
  1. Extinction of males? (Replies: 13)

  2. New mammal discovered (Replies: 8)