Washington: A new study has examined that ancient sabertooth cats killed their prey with the help of their jaws by using them like a can-opener.
The study suggested that the jaws sabertooth cats were like type of can-opener with a long lever handle and a pointed triangular tip.
Early researchers likened the canines to sabers that were used to stab or slash the prey. Leaping onto its victim, the cat would plunge its upper canines into the prey, either eviscerating the animal or causing massive blood loss, however it was later observed that using the downward motion would not increase the force of the bite, arguing against the "canine shear-bite".
The latest study showed that instead of the jaw muscles contracting to close the jaws, the cat may have immobilized its lower jaw against the neck of the prey, like the lug of a can-opener. Then, pushing with its forelimbs against the ground, the cat could elevate the base of its neck, rotating its head and canines forward into the prey (with the lower jaw functioning as a fulcrum). The mechanism was similar to the way in which an upward force against the arm of the can-opener drives the tip downward into the can.
Dr. Jeffrey G. Brown, independent researcher and author of the study, said that In the canine shear-bite, the cat's forelimbs restrained the prey and the neck powirs the bite and in the Class 1 Lever Model there was an alternative method for restraining the prey, freeing the forelimbs to power the bite.
Sabertooth features arose multiple times in evolutionary history in unrelated species of carnivores. The anatomical resemblance among these different carnivore groups strongly suggests they all converged on a similar bite mechanism. It's a remarkable example of convergent evolution.
The study is conducted in published today in PLOS ONE.