Barbourofelis fricki are heterotrophic mammals about the size of a lion but very muscular. Being a similar size to lions, they also ate like lions, both ground dwelling predators with a mostly carnivorous diet. This species, and some of its relatives, sit and wait till their prey get close, then they attack using their large fang teeth to kill their prey and nibble their prey with their small back teeth. This is an ambush approach to hunting. The Journal of Verterbrate Paleontology suggests that “the non-specialized microstructure patterns are consistent with a hypercarnivorous diet, with little or no hard food components.” A hypercarnivorous diet means that the organism ate mostly the meat of its prey. They are mammals meaning their young drink their mother’s milk. Another mammal characteristic, their bodies are endothermic requiring a lot of energy from the food they eat so they can maintain a constant body temperature. Because of their increased metabolic demands, Barbourofelis fricki had a closed circulatory system. After the organism ingested it’s food it would be digested and absorbed in the digestive system. Once nutrients were absorbed they would be pumped around to all other parts of the body by the circulatory system.Barbourofelis fricki did not stop at cephalization. Once they had their head they continued to adapt their teeth. Their highly specialized, iconic teeth are “one of the most extreme feeding adaptations seen in mammals”.

Figure N1: Lower jaw fossil of Barbourofelis fricki. The small teeth were for chewing on food.

Figure N2: Barbourofelis fricki were mammals just like humans, so their digestive systems had similar organs.

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