Will Holz

Causing Trouble for the Forces of Good
Causing Trouble for the Forces of Good

Did smilodon mothers have a controllable swarm of murder kittens?

The extremely awesome Vox.com has (as usual) a great article...this time about how our saber-toothed friends and there have always been questions about how they...well...how they worked at all.

Is the only option on the table that the parents took care of their helpless kittens for years? They have double-fangs for 11 months!


Given the parent’s obvious limitations against medium sized prey isn’t it also possible that those kittens were occasionally useful during those three years or more they were mooching off the ‘rents?

What I propose, based on a complete lack of research (More BAHfest material for me!) or any real experience...is that the kittens were useful. That they were very useful indeed.


Instead, I believe that because the parents’ hunting tactics were completely useless for children until they were very old, the kittens evolved to specialize. Have you picked up a real kitten? The little buggers have strange Vorpal/Velcro claws. How is that even possible? I got to hold an ocelot kitten once and it did that little kitty-march thing on my chest...I was pretty sure it was seconds away from casually tunneling into my heart not just figuratively but actual-literal-literally (sigh..I hate you for making me have to do that, English) running away with my heart.

Seriously though, try snuggling an ocelot for a bit and see how you feel. They’d never do anything to hurt you.


Meanwhile, these smilodon kittens were on a scale all their own. Each kitten was big enough to take down a (lower case) wolverine, and in a group I can’t even imagine what they’d be capable of even slightly organized.


Real velociraptors might not have been terribly scary even in packs...but a saber-toothed kitten swarm? Good luck with that.

And that’s before their parents show up. They may have had a disadvantage with those huge fangs taking down smaller prey (even we humans would have been awkward), but they had a kitten swarm to deal with lesser things.

Illustration for article titled Did smilodon mothers have a controllable swarm of murder kittens?

See? No kitten swarm and distinct disadvantage against Nixon.

It must be true.

About your host (he’s mostly harmless.)

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