Dental Giants

Next to dinosaurs, the saber-tooth tigers are the probably the most interesting prehistoric creatures.  I found some facts about them in the October 2015 issue of Smithsonian magazine.

Young tigers grew their trademark fangs at the rate of six millimeters a month, almost twice as fast as human fignernails.  But it still took at least three years for the saber teeth to fully develop.  Compare that to modern lions, who have mature teeth by age two.  The tigers could open their jaws to up to 120 degrees, making them perfectly adapted to attacking  the necks of lumbering animals like mastodons. But these tigers died out at the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago, when their oversized prey also disappeared.  Then seven-inch-long teeth were no longer an advantage.

But it would’ve been fun to see some of those animals we missed by a geologic eyelash.


Smithsonian magazine, October 2015, p 14.


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