Data for palaeontological research can come from a variety of unusual and unexpected places. Without direct fossil evidence, some things can be almost impossible to determine, but not necessarily. So, how do you know if extinct big cats had a mane?

2 Responses to “AABQOTW 13”

  1. 1 Zach Miller 17/03/2009 at 7:14 am

    You…um…don’t? Seeing as manes are so specific to just one species of modern “big cat,” and they don’t have an osteological correlate (that I’m aware of), you can’t really determine if a fossil animal had it or not.

    And certainly, lions do things a little differently than most cats. They roam around in prides, while other big cats won’t get a whole lot bigger (socially) than a family unit. Where competition between males is fiercer (to control the pride), a mane may be useful as a sign of maturity. Older male lions have thicker manes.

    So I suppose you’d have to be able to infer an extinct cat’s social structure first, then superimpose a mane on the males. But can we ever really know that?

  2. 2 David Hone 17/03/2009 at 5:01 pm

    Errr, Zach, you and quite a few other people don’t seem to have quite got the hang of this. The question has been answered in some detail, follow the link.

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