Machairodus

Name: Machairodus ‭(‬Knife tooth‭).
Phonetic: Mah-care-o-dus.
Named By: Johann Jakob Kaup‭ ‬-‭ ‬1833.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Carnivora,‭ ‬Felidae,‭ ‬Machairodontinae,‭ ‬Machairodontini.
Species: M.‭ ‬africanus,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬aphanistus,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬giganteus,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬oradensis,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬colorandensis,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬transvaalensis,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬alberdiae,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬copei,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬laskarevi,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬irtyschensism,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬kabir,‭ ‬M,‭ ‬kurteni,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬fires,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬ischimicus,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬schlosseri,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬palanderi,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬palmidens,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬inexpectatus,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬giganteus.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Up to‭ ‬2‭ ‬meters long,‭ ‬and‭ ‬1.2‭ ‬meters high at the shoulder.‭ ‬Full size depends upon species.
Known locations: Across Europe,‭ ‬Asia,‭ ‬Africa and North America.
Time period: Tortonian of the Miocene through to late Ionian of the Pleistocene.
Fossil representation: Many known specimens.‭

       While Machairodus possesses enlarged canine fangs they seem to be intermediate between regular sized canines and the larger canines exhibited by other similar cats.‭ ‬These teeth combined with squat proportions and a robust physique has led to speculation that Machairodus’s hunting behaviour was that of an ambush predator.‭ ‬The popular depiction of Machairodus hunting is actually the same method that has been proposed for most other heavily built cats with enlarged canines,‭ ‬and this is lurking within the low tree canopy and jumping down onto unsuspecting prey.‭ ‬In the initial surprise of the attack Machairodus would bite into a critical area such as the neck for the best chance of severing an artery.‭ ‬With such a wound inflicted,‭ ‬the prey would quickly succumb to blood loss and collapse,‭ ‬allowing Machairodus to begin eating.
       While Machairodus has a large number of species attributed to the genus these can actually be split into two distinct forms of basal and advanced.‭ ‬The more advanced form has a longer forearm and a shorter lumbar region which resulted in the back of the more advanced Machairodus beginning to slope downwards towards the rear.‭ ‬Another prehistoric big cat named Homotherium has a similar but more extreme body plan which is partly why Machairodus is thought to be a possible ancestor to Homotherium.‭ ‬Machairodus also shares another similar trait with its enlarged Canines in that when individuals of both genera were young,‭ ‬both front and back edges of the canines were serrated,‭ ‬but became worn within the first few years of life.‭
       The large number of Machairodus‭ ‬specimens has allowed for the identification of male and female individuals.‭ ‬This also revealed clear sexual dimorphism in at least one species,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬giganteus,‭ ‬where the male is consistently larger than the female.‭ ‬This is an expected trait as male mammals are often heavier if not slightly larger than the females of their species,‭ ‬but evidence is often lacking in animals known only from fossils because their preservation and discovery depends upon just the right set of circumstances.

Further reading
- Tertiäre Raubtiere des westlichen Sibiriens; I. Machairodontinae (Tertiary Carnivors from Western Sibiria; I. Machairodontinae). Akademia Nauk SSSR. Trudy Paleozoologiceskogo Instituta. - Leningrad 5:111-154 - Y.u. A. Orlov - 1936.
- On Two Skulls of Machairodus from the Lower Pleistocene Beds of Choukoutien - Bulletin of the Geological Society of China Volume 19, Issue 3, pages 235–256, September 1939 - P. Teilhard De Chardin - 1939.
- Machairodus sp. from the Lower Pliocene bone breccia of Węże (Poland) - Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 35 (1-2), 1990: 73-83. - Henryk Dybka - 1990.
- A new species of Machairodus from the late Miocene Kalmakpai locality in eastern Kazakhstan (USSR). - Annales Zoologici Fennici 28(3-4):361-369 - M. V. Sotnikova - 1991.
# - A new machairodontine (Carnivora, Felidae) from the Late Miocene hominid locality of TM 266, Toros-Menalla, Chad. - Comptes Rendus Paleovol 4:243-253 - S. Peigne, L. Bonis, A. Likius, H. T. Mackaye, P., Vignaud, & M. Brunet - 2005.
- Machairodus aphanistus (Felidae, Machairodontinae, Homotherini) from the late Miocene (Vallesian, MN 10) site of Batallones-3 (Torrejón de Velasco, Madrid, Spain) - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology - Marcos F. G. Monescillo, Manuel J. Salesa, Mauricio Antón, Gema Siliceo & Jorge Moralesa - 2014.

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