Physical Characteristics

The Swords

Figure.8  Smilodon tooth.
The elongated canines of the sabre-tooth cat,  Smilodon were between 18-25cm long. The canines of the other two sabre-tooth cats, Homotherium and Xenosmilus were approximately 10-12cm in length.
It was originally thought that these large, elongated teeth were razor sharp and perhaps serrated on one edge. Today, researchers believe the sabres to be quite blunt.

Figure.9  Xenosmilus skull.
The remaining teeth were much smaller in both the upper and lower jaws, interlocking upon closure of the jaw. Due to the length of these sabres, the mandibular flanges (lower jaw) became reduced or narrowed so that the canines could protrude beneath the chin when the jaw was closed (Kurten 1980).

Figure.10  Smilodon skull.
The jaw of the sabre-tooth is another characteristic that separates it from other cats. Unlike other carnivorous mammals, the sabre- tooth cat could open its jaw quite wide. Researchers have estimated that the jaw may have opened to a maximum angle of 120º (