Clean-cut cat: the surgical killing bite of Lokotunjailurus
Lokotunjailurus was a large sabertooth cat that lived in the latest Miocene of Africa. It was a close relative of Machairodus and Homotherium, and just like them it had large and very flattened upper canine teeth with strongly serrated margins. Such weapons were there for a reason: they allowed this predator to kill with a very precise bite, known technically as the “canine shear-bite”, which caused massive blood loss and a quick death of the prey animals.
The kills of Lokotunjailurus could be called “clean” in the sense that they were fast and efficient, giving the prey little time for suffering (or for hurting the hunter). But we should not deceive ourselves about one thing: they would surely be rather bloody affairs, much more so than in the case of modern big cats, whose blunt canines are used for crushing and suffocating, but often don´t even pierce the flesh of their victims.
All living cats are fastidiously clean and spend inordinate amounts of time licking all traces of blood and dirt off their coat, and there is good reason to suspect that sabertooths would do the same thing. After all, it is an excellent way to keep away insects and infections. And, you know, cats are such clean-cut creatures, it is just in their nature!
Want to learn much more about the differences between the killing bite of sabertooths and that of modern big cats? Download the complete film “Bringing the Sabertooths back to Life” following this link: