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《Vertebrata Palasiatica》 2016-04
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A skull of Machairodus horribilis and new evidence for gigantism as a mode of mosaic evolution in machairodonts (Felidae, Carnivora)

DENG Tao;ZHANG Yun-Xiang;Zhijie J.TSENG;HOU Su-Kuan;Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences;CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences;Department of Geology, Northwest University;Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History;  
Sabertooth cats were extinct carnivorans that have attracted great attention and controversy because of their unique dental morphology representing an entirely extinct mode of feeding specialization. Some of them are lion-sized or tiger-sized carnivorans who are widely interpreted as hunters of larger and more powerful preys than those of their modern nonsabertoothed relatives. We report the discovery of a large sabertooth cat skull of Machairodus horribilis from the Late Miocene of northwestern China. It shares some characteristics with derived sabertooth cats, but also is similar to extant pantherines in some cranial characters. A functional morphological analysis suggests that it differed from most other machairodont felids and had a limited gape to hunt smaller preys. Its anatomical features provide new evidence for the diversity of killing bites even within in the largest saber-toothed carnivorans and offer an additional mechanism for the mosaic evolution leading to functional and morphological diversity in sabertooth cats.
【Fund】: 国家自然科学基金重点项目(批准号:41430102);; 国家重点基础研究发展计划项目(编号:2012CB821906);; 中国科学院战略性先导科技专项(编号:XDB03020104)资助
【CateGory Index】: Q915
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