One of the more bizarre proposals I’ve heard recently is that Smilodon and other machairodonts may have had large, drooping jowls to protect their famous (and fragile) fangs from the elements. I’m not convinced of this reconstruction myself, but I do find it rather amusing. Speculation will always be a large part of paleontology.
The Papo Smilodon was released back in 2011, so its fangs are out in the open for all to see. It is posed in an extreme crouching stance with its muscular limbs taut and its mouth open in a roar. No proper predator would ever let out the slightest peep during a hunt, so it’s doubtful that this guy (you can clearly tell this is a male) is stalking game. No, more likely he’s confronting a rival who’s been trespassing on his turf. Or maybe he’s facing down a vicious pack of dire wolves or a hulking short-faced bear bent on stealing his hard-earned kill. Or perhaps he’s been cornered by a band of early human hunters. In any case, this big cat is ready to rumble!
The Smilodon measures 15.5 cm long. Its colour scheme appears to be based on an African lion: tawny brown and white fur with dark brown on the ears and the tip of the tail, grey claws, black for the pads on the paws and the accents around the eyes, nose, and mouth, light brown eyes, a dark pink nose, pink and dark purple for the inside of the mouth, and creamy white dentition. It’s perfectly possible that Smilodon was coloured like this, but I much prefer my machairodonts with spots or stripes on their pelts.
The detailing on this toy is very impressive. Finely sculpted fur covers the entire animal and the muscles in the limbs look well-defined and powerful. The ribs can be felt on the flanks and the wrinkles on the muzzle add to the Smilodon‘s enraged appearance. No major anatomical inaccuracies to be found here, although the overall build is probably too sleek and streamlined. And the inside of the mouth is quite a disappointment. Look inside the mouth of just about any Papo theropod and you’ll see plenty of fine sculpting detail. But aside from the simple tongue, the inside of this cat’s mouth is flat and plain.
But if the standard appearance isn’t your cup of tea, there’s the upcoming 2017 version with tiger stripes and a lion’s mane. Looks like it’s wearing a babushka to me.