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Amphimachairodus is an extinct genus of large machairodonts belonging to the clade known as Eumachairodontia (true saberteeth) along with relatives like Smilodon and Homotherium. It is also a member of the tribe Homotherini within Machairodontidae and is most closely related to such species as Xenosmilus and Homotherium. It inhabited Eurasia, Northern Africa and North America during the late Miocene epoch. It has been assigned erroneously to the genus Machairodus in times past, but has since been discovered to be different enough to be classified as a separate genus.

Description[]

There was marked sexual dimorphism in A. giganteus, with males being much larger than females.

A single fossil specimen examined by Legendre and Roth was determined to have an approximate body mass of 201.8 kg. A. kabir was a large species from Central Africa whose size may have weighed 350–490 kilograms. The species A. coloradensis, from the United States (formerly Machairodus coloradensis) was a significantly large animal, about 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) at the shoulder, according to skeletal and life reconstructions, potentially making it one of the largest known felids. this species is distinguishable from A. giganteus by subtle differences in the shape of its mandible.

Amphimachairodus was about 2 metres long and probably hunted as an ambush predator - its legs were too short to sustain a long chase, but it most likely was a good jumper. It probably used its canines to cut open the throat of its prey, severing the major arteries and possibly crushing the windpipe. Its teeth were rooted to its mouth and were not as delicate as those of most other saber-toothed cats of the time, which had extremely long canines that hung out of their mouths. The fangs of Amphimachairodus, however, were able to easily fit in its mouth comfortably while being long enough to be effective for hunting. Amphimachairodus also possessed a longer tail than most other large machairodont genera.

For felines, the skull of Amphimachairodus is rather long, but rivaled by the skulls of the two largest species of extant cats: the lion and tiger. When compared with the skull of a regular lion, it is long and very narrow, particularly in the muzzle and width of the zygomatic arches. Its sagittal crest is well pronounced. Compared with other machairodonts, the canines are stout and capable of large amounts of stress. This characteristic is slightly remodeled in females, whose canines are slimmer and generally longer. Compared with females, the orbit of males are smaller, muzzles larger, the anterior-most portion of the nasal bones generally flare upwards slightly, and the downward slope of the dorsal edge of the skull in front of the orbit is not as pronounced, producing a straighter profile. Compared with the most well known machairodont Smilodon, commonly referred to as the "saber-toothed cat", the canines are much shorter, the facial portion again is much longer, and the teeth not reduced so far in number. Several machairodonts, namely Megantereon, bear flanges on the mandible, which are very reduced in A. giganteus though characteristics of the mandible associated with the flanges are present, particularly the lateral flattening of the anterior portion of the mandible, creating a cross section more square than semi-circular. The dental formula for this cat is I3/3 C1/1 P2/2 M1/1.

Paleoecology[]

Amphimachairodus was an inhabitant of woodlands and open floodplains as based on finds in Pikermi in Greece and Shanxi Province in China, indicating it had habitat preferences similar to modern lions in many respects. Specimens recovered from Turolian deposits in indicate that the fauna living there was much the same, differing only by species in many cases. Among the creatures it shared its environment were bovids such as Parabos, the mastodon Anancus, the bear Agriotherium, fellow machairodont Metailurus, hyenas like Thalassictis, antelopes such as Tragoportax and camels such as Paracamelus, the horse Hipparion and the beaver-like Dipoides. The larger herbivores were likely common prey for Amphimachairodus, and it likely have competed with Agriotherium for food, likely having to yield kills to the bear and possibly also stealing kills from hyenas such as Thalassictis and from Metailurus when the opportunity arose.

In North America, in places such as Coffee Ranch in Texas, Amphimachairodus coloradensis shared territory with Agriotherium as it had in Africa and Eurasia, but also shared territory with the feliform Barbourofelis and the canids Epicyon and Borophagus, and herbivores like the camel Aepycamelus, the pronghorn antelope Cosoryx, horses like Neohipparion and Nannippus, the peccary Prosthennops and rhinoceroses like Teleoceras.

In the Djurab desert in northern Chad in central Africa, Amphimachairodus kabir seems to have lived alongside fellow machairodonts LokotunjailurusTchadailurus and early representatives of the genus Megantereon. In addition to these other cats, animals such as crocodiles, three-toed horses, fish, monkeys, hippos, aardvarks, turtles, rodents, giraffes, snakes, antelopes, pigs, mongooses, foxes, hyenas, otters, honey badgers and the hominid Sahelanthropus dwelled here, providing ample food. Based on these and other fossils, it is theorized that the Djurab was once the shore of a lake, generally forested close to the waters with savannah-like areas some distance away. The great number of cat species in the environment indicates that there was significant room and available niches for multiple species of large felids to coexist.

In the Media[]

  • kingdom to the sabertooth

Gallery[]

Template:Machairodontinae

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