We’re all used to the common depiction of sabertoothed cats like the famous Smilodon. A fairly standard-looking feline face with protruding teeth, something like this:

It’s a look so ingrained in paleoart and pop culture that it’s even become visual shorthand for making cartoon creature designs look “prehistoric”.

Except… it might be completely wrong.

We’ve all been assuming that these saberteeth were basically tusks, like those we see in modern animals such as walruses and elephants. But it turns out that tusks have a very different chemical structure to normal teeth so they can withstand constant exposure to the environment – and Smilodon’s fangs don’t show any of those adaptations.

There’s a detailed explanation of this idea and the science behind it over at this blog post. It isn’t an academically published theory yet (although I’d love to see somebody do a proper study), but it’s still very plausible and interesting to think about.

The tl;dr version: it’s actually more likely that Smilodon covered its teeth with big jowly lips to protect them. Which means it probably looked like a feline version of a St. Bernard. Or… sort of like Chester Cheetah.


I wanted to do a few portraits of women in paleontology so here’s Mary Anning and Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan. 

Mary Anning discovered the first plesiosaur skeleton and one of the first ictheosaurs and also played a key role in the discovery of coprolites (dino poo). 

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is a South African vertebrate paleontologist known for her expertise in the study of the microstructure of fossil teeth and bones. She’s currently the head of the department of biological sciences at the University of Cape Town. 


I just wanted to share two amazing artists I discovered today while I was trying to draw maniraptors. The first five images are from Julio Lacerda and the last five are from Mark Witton. They are just AMAZING – I am absolutely blown away by not just the artwork but also the designs, the interaction between animals and their environments, composition, the incredible detail, and storytelling within each piece. It’s just phenomenal work. Witton also has a PhD in paleobiology and is an active researcher, and his blog is full of not just artwork but research and recent discoveries and discussions and is just fabulous.


Someone asked me what my top three non-avian dinosaurs were and I got a little carried away!!

I like Microraptor gui because it was cute, I like Spinosaurus aegypticus because it was Badass and also quite special, and I like Kulindadromeus because it suggests feathers are a basal trait of all dinosaurs and that makes me VERY EXCITED (note: this doesn’t mean all dinosaurs had feathers, but it does mean there is a possibility they had a wide variety of integuments we have yet to discover!!)

And Carnotaurus sastrei gets an honorable mention because I think its angry eyebrow horns are cool and I love its chubby little nub arms.

a little experiment with fat tissue

or “the tameing of the hellpig”

I was a little bored today. So I scribbled about a topic I wanted to tackle a while ago.

THIS is the skull of an Enthelodon. The “hellpig” of the oligocene. According to paleonthology 1.35 m (4.4 ft), with 65cm ( 2ft 2in) of wich being a massive skull. Probably omnivorous and believed to be of the same temper as a wild boar with a superiority complex.
And this is how they get often depicted

Hellpig indeed. Now. this is what I saw many describe as “shrinkwrap” reconstruction. you take a fossil ( whole skeletton or just skull) and stretch skin over it, only regarding the most essential of muscles. Ignoring all fat tissue. most muscle density or simply skinflaps.

Here is a different, modern creature I “reconstructed” in the same way.

Can you tell what it is?
Yeah! Thats a hippo! Now… hippos are in no way safe animals. More people die from hippos than sharks and crocks, but it shouldnt look that demonical.

So with my spare time I went and put some flesh and fat on an enthelodont skull. And suddenly….

it aint a hellpig no more.

I just found that interresting to see. Makes me wish more people would step back from the pure shrinkwrap view.

Edit: forgot the credits! ow. bad me. The skull is from the smithsonian http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/evidence/oli_03.html
The other picture from BBC “Walking with beasts”