Ever wondered how the grandfather of the modern pussy cat got its long, sharp, deadly-looking fangs from? These six inch swords didn’t just grow overnight and – according to scientists – they might not be as frightening as they appear to be!
A team of researchers examined the fossilized saber-tooth cats to discover the emergence of these lethal looking fangs. Turns out the fangs grew slowly over time – 6 millimeters per month according to the new analysis – and reached full length and strength only once the cats reached adulthood – that’s three years old for cats!
The study was conducted making use of X-rays, computer models and oxygen isotope tests to determine exactly the rate of growth of the saber-tooth cat’s canines. The results of which were published journal PLOS One.
‘Smilodon fatalis’ as it known in the the scientific community, this big cat prowled the territories of modern Northern and Southern Americas approximately 10,000 years ago. It was one of the largest predators around – but it was only deadly when its fangs were in full functionality (around 18cm). As a cub, it was vulnerable to attacks and had to be protected by the mother at all times.
Despite the frightening image of this cat, the Sabre-tooth tiger was very much like the modern lion – with a bite force one third of the bite force of average-sized lion. However, the 18 centimeter long, sharp fangs sure made the tiger fierce-some and deadly to behold! But if it had the soft heart of ‘Diego’ the Sabre-tooth tiger from Ice-Age then I’m not as scared!