Last Book Update and a Popocatepetl Volcano Video

How’s that for a mixed bag? 馃檪

Seriously, though, it’s a gorgeous video of an eruption that happened just before (and during) sunset last night. You can find out more about this volcano and what it’s doing by clicking the “Popocatepetl” link at the top of this page.

As for the book, since the update last week, someone whose opinion I implicitly trust reviewed the book draft and suggested that I break it into two parts, because it’s house cats.

I agree. The rest of the cat family already has its overarching narrative, so to speak–“wild cats!” This ties a book of 50 short essays together very nicely.

But we know Fluffy better, and there are many layers to our acquaintance. In fact, there are so many different kinds of information available on moggies, fancy-cats, and strays/feral cats that 25 facts per book are much easier for readers to digest.

So I’ve set the milestone.

On that day–January 10th–check back with this blog for a special offer from Amazon on the books.

And as always, thank you for your interest!

Featured image: An explosion early on the morning of December 5, 2018, image by CENAPRED.


Of Sabertooths and Tigers

Fact: 聽Modern cats and sabertooths come from two different cat-family groups.

If you have ever searched the Web for “sabertoothed tiger,” you’ve seen some articles and websites that say it never existed.

They’re right, and here’s why.

The cat family – extinct sabertooths and modern felines – comes from the pseudaelurine complex of cats whose fossils go back to around 15 to 20 Ma (million years ago). (Werdelin and others)

We’re interested here in two particular group members:

  1. Pseudaelurus quadridentatus: The type species – i.e., the original fossil cat named “Pseudaelurus” – is this leopard-sized cat that prowled Europe during the middle Miocene. P-Quad had unusual upper canines that vaguely resembled saberteeth. They weren’t very extreme, but combined with other, more subtle features, they suggest that sabercats evolved from this cat. (Ant贸n; Rothwell; Turner and others)
  2. Styriofelis lorteti: This middle-Miocene Eurasian cat was the size of a large lynx and, like all pseudaelurines, looked聽a lot like a modern cat. It also had cone-shaped upper fangs, like today’s cats. Although Lorteti went extinct at the end of the middle Miocene, it lasted long enough to found the line of modern felines. (Salesa and others; Werdelin and others)

So, after pseudaelurines first appeared, sabertooths and modern cats took very different evolutionary paths.

This is why there never was a sabertoothed tiger, even though sabertoothed cats and tigers shared the world from at least 2 Ma (Luo and others) until the end of the last ice age, when the sabercats finally disappeared.

Featured image: Sabertoothed cat Homotherium (left) by Sergiodlarosa. CC BY-SA 3.0. 聽Tiger (right), by Hollingsworth, John and Karen, retouched by Zwoenitzer. Public domain.

Ant贸n, M. 2013. Sabertooth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Luo, S-J; Kim, J-H.; Johnson, W. E.; van der Welt, J.; Martenson, J.; and others. 2004. Phylogeography and genetic ancestry of tigers (Panthera tigris). PLoS Biology. 2(12):e442.

Rothwell, T. 2003. Phylogenetic Systematics of North American Pseudaelurus (Carnivora: Felidae). American Museum Novitates. 3403:1-64.

Salesa, M. J., Ant贸n, M., Morales, J., and Peign茅, S. 2011. Functional anatomy of the postcranial skeleton of Styriofelis lorteti (Carnivora, Felidae, Felinae) from the Middle Miocene (MN 6) locality of Sansan (Gers, France). Estudios Geol贸gicos. 67(2):223-243.

Turner, A., Ant贸n, M., Salesa, M. J., and J. Morales, J. 2011. Changing ideas about the evolution and functional morphology of Machairodontine felids. Estudios Geol贸gicos. 67(2): 255-276.

Werdelin, L.; Yamaguchi, N.; Johnson, W. E.; and O’Brien, S. J.. 2010. Phylogeny and evolution of cats (Felidae), in Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids, ed. D. W. Macdonald and A. J. Loveridge, 5982. Oxford: Oxford University Press.