The fossilized fangs of saber-toothed cats hold clues to how the extinct mammals shared space and food with other large predators nine million years ago.

Led by the University of Michigan and the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, a team of paleontologists has analyzed the tooth enamel of two species of saber-toothed cats and a bear dog unearthed in geological pits near Madrid. Bear dogs, also extinct, had dog-like teeth and a bear-like body and gait.

Soledad Domingo, a postdoctoral fellow at the U-M Museum of Paleontology, is the first author of a paper on the findings published in the Nov. 7, 2012 edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Professor Catherine Badgley is co-author of the new study.

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U-M News Service press release

Image credit: Mauricio Antón