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    Hoplophoneus primaevus
    Brule Formation, Shannon County, South Dakota, USA

    Sabre-toothed "cats" first appeared in the fossil record 34-38 million years ago. Their hyper-developed canine teeth were essentially finely-serrated knives specialized for killing or feeding. Many scientists have theorized about how the cats used these formidable weapons, but the most likely explanation is that they developed a hunting style that allowed them to capture prey and deliver a "coup de grace" by severing the jugular or other critical blood supply, or slicing through the windpipe. This would render the prey instantly inactive and thus minimize injury risk to themselves from the normal struggles of dying prey, some of which would have been significantly larger than the cat. A cat who lost one or both of his sabres in combat would have been at a severe disadvantage and probably would not have survived very long unless he developed a new hunting style focused on smaller prey. This fossil cat is a Hoplophoneus, a solitary hunter with a probable lifestyle very similar to the modern leopard. Because these cats were solitary hunters with large territories, their fossil remains are much rarer than herd or pack animals; only isolated finds are ever made, and never more than one animal in the same area unless it was a den. By contrast the probable primary prey for this cat, Oreodons are found quite literally by the hundreds in these same fossil beds. In addition, the natural ratio of prey to predator means that there were at least 50 prey animals in a fauna for every predator, only a few percent of which were sabre-cats. This superb articulated specimen consists of over 80% original bone material. Only some of the toe bones and tail vertebrae were missing from the skeleton, which was found in a fully articulated state in the ground and painstakingly collected to assure that no pieces of the original specimen were left behind. Minor restoration has been done on the sabres and incisors and some parts of the skull, and on small damaged areas on individual bones of the skeleton. The specimen measures 43 inches long by 17 inches high and has an 8 inch long skull. Mounted on a custom, low-profile grey steel stand, this is a museum-grade display item of the highest quality and rarity, worthy of the most discriminating collector.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2008
    20th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 11,278

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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