Pound for pound, Australia's extinct marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) would have made mincemeat of today's African lion (Panthera leo) had the two big hyper-carnivores ever squared off in a fight to the death, according to an Australian scientist.
New research published in the Journal of Zoology suggests that Thylacoleo killed prey rapidly, using its "bolt-cutter" type teeth to scissor through hide and flesh to produce major trauma and blood loss.
By contrast, African lions and similar big cats of today use their bite force to suffocate prey, using a "clamp and hold" technique that can take up to 15 minutes with large prey such as Cape buffalo.
"My results suggest that the marsupial lion employed a unique killing technique," says research author Stephen Wroe. "It used its massive carnassial cheekteeth to effect major trauma and a rapid kill. Unlike any living mammalian carnivores, the marsupial's carnassials were not only butchery tools but also active components in the killing process."
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