Apr 16, 2017 05:05 PM EDT
A saber-toothed cat is the prehistoric ancestor of our present-day carnivores. What distinguishes it from our lions and tigers are two vicious looking canines that protrude menacingly from the front of its mouth, even when the mouth is completely closed.
The scientists discovered the existence of saber-toothed cat from the numerous fossilized remains found of this Cenozoic era creature that used to freely roam about in Europe millions of years ago. However, how these huge dual canines were exactly used by the animals remains a moot point among scientists and researchers.
Just when the interest had started to wane regarding this creature, comes the exciting news of a new find at an archaeological site in Schöningen, Germany. The researchers recovered the remains of a saber-toothed cat with its fossilized skull nearly intact.
The fossil remains belong to Homotherium latidens, the European saber-toothed cat. It was the third find in Schöningen of this cat, whose fossils were recovered from the relatively recent sediment layers.
The first saber-toothed cat fossil was unearthed in this location in 2012. UPI reports Jordi Serangeli, a lead excavator on the project, who is also a researcher at the University of Tübingen, as saying, "Our findings show that 300,000 years ago, the saber-toothed cats were not as rare as previously thought."
A total of 11 bone fragments of the fossilized remains of this cat, that eventually went extinct 500,000 years ago, were found and were pieced together in the lab. What emerged was a complete neurocranium or braincase that made it easy for the scientists to identify the species.
How did the scientists piece together this jigsaw puzzle? Phys Org quotes Prof. Dr. Thijs van Kolfschoten of the University of Leiden, thus, "We then compared the reconstructed skull with recent and already extinct species of large carnivores and were thus able to demonstrate that the remains represented the head of a European saber-toothed cat."
The researchers are now comparing this find with the previous two cat specimens and will publish their observations in a scientific paper. The scientists are upbeat about the insights this nearly complete saber-toothed skull will provide with regard to its size and shape of the brain, indicative of its visual and hearing capabilities.
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