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Mauricio Antón

Publication Year: 2013

With their spectacularly enlarged canines, sabertooth cats are among the most popular of prehistoric animals, yet it is surprising how little information about them is available for the curious layperson. What’s more, there were other sabertooths that were not cats, animals with exotic names like nimravids, barbourofelids, and thylacosmilids. Some were no taller than a domestic cat, others were larger than a lion, and some were as weird as their names suggest. Sabertooths continue to pose questions even for specialists. What did they look like? How did they use their spectacular canine teeth? And why did they finally go extinct? In this visual and intellectual treat of a book, Mauricio Antón tells their story in words and pictures, all scrupulously based on the latest scientific research. The book is a glorious wedding of science and art that celebrates the remarkable diversity of the life of the not-so-distant past.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Life of the Past

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xii

For the past thirty-five years I have had the privilege of spending time in the company of Africa’s charismatic big cats – the lions, leopards, and cheetahs that my wife, Angie, and I have come to know as individuals, recording their lives in words, drawings, and photographs...

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pp. xiii-xvi

Sabertooth cats are among the most popular of prehistoric animals, yet surprisingly little information about them is available for the curious layperson. One particular genus, Smilodon, has exerted an intense fascination since its discovery, and it has been featured in children’s...

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pp. xvii-xxi

My interest in sabertooths began when I was eight years old and lived in Valladolid, in Spain. I came across a copy of The Golden Book Encyclopedia of Natural Science, and leafing through the section on fossils, I found an illustration by Rudolph Zallinger that depicted a scene...

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1. What Is a Sabertooth?

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pp. 3-26

Today sabertooths are a familiar kind of extinct creatures for scientists and for many laypersons, but in the early days of paleontology, not even scientists knew that such a thing as a sabertoothed predator had ever existed. Consequently, when early paleontologists first tried...

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2. The Ecology of Sabertooths

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pp. 27-76

During the span of geological time that sabertooths of one kind or another have inhabited the earth, our planet has undergone dramatic changes. Continents have collided and then drifted away from each other; temperatures have oscillated wildly, from periods of scorching heat to chilling ice ages; sea levels...

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3. A Who’s Who of Sabertoothed Predators

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pp. 77-156

It doesn’t take a zoologist to tell a living lion from a tiger, or a leopard from a cougar, but most zoologists would have an embarrassingly difficult time trying to tell apart the bones of any of these pairings. Only a trained specialist, well familiarized with the specific features...

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4. Sabertooths as Living Predators

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pp. 157-216

All that has survived of the sabertooths are their fossilized bones, but they once were living creatures, and the aim of the science of paleobiology is to infer from their fossils as much as possible about their ways of life. But can we really do more than just imagine how the sabertooths moved,...

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5. Extinctions

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pp. 217-230

The fact that no sabertooths have survived to the present day has often led to interpretations that see them as somewhat inferior, slow, or even maladaptive creatures that were left behind in the evolutionary race, replaced by the more fit “normal” big cats. The paleontological literature...


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pp. 231-237


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pp. 239-243

About the Author, Production Notes

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pp. 245-246

E-ISBN-13: 9780253010490
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253010421

Page Count: 268
Illustrations: 149 color illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Life of the Past