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Evidence of intraspecific agonistic interactions in Smilodon populator (Carnivora, Felidae)

Nicolás R. CHIMENTO, Federico L. AGNOLIN, Leopoldo SOIBELZON, Javier G. OCHOA & Viviana BUIDE

en Comptes Rendus Palevol 18 (4) - Pages 449-454

Published on 30 June 2019

The saber-toothed cat Smilodon is a characteristic genus of the Pleistocene faunas of the American continent. Smilodon belongs to an extinct clade of felids that had hypertrophied blade-like upper canines. Because the length of the canines is so extreme, the killing bite of Smilodon is a hotly debated topic in vertebrate paleontology. Some authors have proposed that saber-toothed cats had a weak bite and their canines were fragile, not useful for attacking prey or penetrating bones. The aim of the present contribution is to describe two new specimens of Smilodon populator that have injuries on their skulls. Although it cannot be ruled out that the injuries were caused by a potential prey kicking the skull, the size, shape and general features of the injuries suggest that they were inflicted by the upper canines of another Smilodon individual during agonistic interactions.


Keywords:

Smilodon populator, ‘Saber-toothed’ felids, enlarged canines, intraspecific interactions

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