Saber-toothed cats dig into prey
This detail from the 1988 mural "Trapped in Time" by Mark Hallett depicts saber-toothed cats (Smilodon fatalis) digging into prey. Recent research suggests a social structure that helped members survive to adulthood even when they couldn’t hunt for themselves due to this birth defect. Researchers used 3D-image reconstruction of external and internal bone morphology of a deformed Smilodon hip bone to reveal this cat suffered from hip dysplasia, suggesting a social structure that helped members survive to adulthood even when they couldn’t hunt for themselves due to this birth defect.
[Research supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grant DBI 1812301.]
Learn more in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County news story These hips don’t lie: 3D imaging of a pelvis suggests social care for saber-tooths. (Date of image: 1988; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Oct. 28, 2022)
Credit: ©1988 Mark Hallett mural "Trapped in Time," courtesy of La Brea Tar Pits
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