Thursday, January 9, 2014

Non-Fiction - Smilodon Fatalis

During our non-fiction unit Joseph has studied the following animal and he wanted to teach you about it.
Smilodon Fatalis 

          Imagine a lion that has drank steroids. That would be the Smilodon. One of the most ferocious cats that ever lived, those 6-inch long teeth were impressive. Despite their ferocious teeth, these were fragile, and would break easily if they hit solid bone. So how did the monster cat kill it’s prey? The answer is power. Even though it was a cat, it’s behavior and anatomy is more like a bear than a cat. A slow runner, it could only muster about 25 miles an hour. The reason? The Saber Tooth only hunted very large prey, which meant they were slow but incredibly strong. The Saber Tooth had to be incredibly strong like it’s prey, perhaps even stronger. This hunting technique meant that Smilodon would sneak up on it’s prey,chase it for a short time, then wrestle it to the ground. this would enable the saber teeth to do the killing while the prey was held still, so that the saber tooth would not break it’s teeth when biting prey. 
Struggling prey is much harder for the saber teeth to come into play effectively than still prey. It was hard to keep down thrashing prey, but once they were used properly, saber teeth became one of the most efficient killing tools nature has ever produced.      
       With the element of surprise and massive chest muscles, even the largest mammoths would fall victim to smilodon. With such power, and a rich variety of prey, Saber Tooths enjoyed a menu of: Mammoths, Mastodons,{a cousin of Mammoths.} Bison, horse, rhino, sloth, terror bird, and sometimes, their own kind.
        But Smilodon did not have this bountiful supply of food all to itself. As the prey began to get larger, so did the predators. The Dire Wolf, a cousin of the Gray Wolf, was the largest wolf that ever lived, about twice the size of the Gray. It also had very powerful jaws, able to crack open bones to get at the nutritious marrow inside.
         The Short Faced Bear, relative of today's grizzly, is six feet tall at the shoulder and when it rears up, it’s 11 feet. Even the largest wolf packs or the strongest Saber Tooths cannot stand up to the top predator of the Pleistocene Epoch.
          These seemingly unstoppable beasts ruled North America for almost 5 million years, but it was the sheer size of the Megafauna that sealed their fate. As the climate became hotter, Grasslands disappeared and the forests arrived. The large plant-eaters, unable to adapt, soon vanished and soon the Predators, to slow to catch small, nimble prey, went extinct. As time went on, other, smaller animals dominated the earth, but there has never been more giants than in the time of the Megafauna.   
By Joseph

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