Published on February 15th, 2021 | by David Marshall
Episode 121/122: Dietary ecology of Smilodon fatalis
Smilodon is probably one of the most iconic mammalian apex predators with its extended upper canines and robustly-built forearms. In fact, when we compare Smilodon to modern cats (felids), we don’t see these same characteristics. So what were they used for? Was Smilodon specialised for any particular behaviour?
Owing to the unique preservation of the tar seeps at Rancho La Brea, Los Angeles, USA, we can find an overabundance of predators, including Smilodon fatalis, Canis dirus, Panthera atrox and Puma concolor. This allows researchers to reconstruct the predatory landscape of the area in the Pleistocene. Who was eating what? Was there any competition between predators?
All of these questions feed in to the ‘dietary ecology’ of Smilodon and here to discuss that, and more, is Dr Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University.
Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of Dr DeSantis.
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