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  • Cited by 14
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2014

14 - Interpreting sabretooth cat (Carnivora; Felidae; Machairodontinae) postcranial morphology in light of scaling patterns in felids



Reconstructing the behaviour and ecology of extinct felids, especially that of machairodontine felids, has been of great interest within the field of vertebrate paleontology. The anatomical design of these animals has been investigated with respect to dental function and prey acquisition behaviour, and, to a lesser degree, locomotion.

Few large felids exist today, and machairodontine felids were sometimes even larger than the largest extant felids, lions and tigers. This leads to the question of how much of the morphology observed in large machairodontines is simply an extension of size-related shape trends observed in modern felids. That is, to what extent are the morphological differences between machairodontines and smaller extant felids due to differences in size? Which extinct forms appear to be scaled-up versions of smaller felids, and which ones exhibit morphology indicative of functional differences?

This preliminary study investigates machairodontine postcranial morphology in light of scaling patterns in extant felids and examines how well trends in smaller extant felids predict the morphology of larger felids. We also look for any overall trends in machairodontine postcranial morphology that unite them as a group, much like the possession of machairodont dentition does.

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