Picky Eaters Probably Wouldn't Survive Exctinction
By Courtney Flannery 2014-04-24 17:51:36
I have to say that I am an extremely picky eater. To all the food servers of the world, I'm sorry in advance for my crazy orders. Turns out my terrible eating habits might have negative consequences if there is ever a food apocalypse. Scientists studied everyone's favorite four legged creatures to learn how diet is linked to survival, and their results will make you think twice the next time you're standing in front of an open refrigerator.
According to Fox News, a study published in Biology Letters showed big felines were able to survive apocalyptic situations by not being choosy eaters. Larisa R.G. DeSantis of Vanderbilt University, along with Ryan Haupt from the University of Wyoming, analyzed ancient big cats to see how eating habits helped them make it through what seemed like insurmountable circumstances. About 12,000 years ago there was a mass extinction of animals, killing off four cat species out of six that roamed the North American wilderness. Only the cougar and jaguar made it to modern times.
The researchers discovered that these feline breeds would eat just about anything, including bones, and survived because they were able to get nutrition where other cats couldn't. Their cousins, like the saber toothed tiger and a breed of lion, bit the dust because of their refined palates, preferring to only eat the tasty meaty bits. Their hunting patterns could have been a factor as well. Modern cougars and jaguars are opportunistic predators and will scarf down any creature they hunt, while other cats are more selective in their prey.
To figure out exactly what these felines ate, the research team had to study their teeth, and utilized some pretty sweet new technology. They used a technique called dental microwear texture analysis, which produces three-dimensional images of tooth surfaces. The images were able to show that red meat eaters had horizontal scratches on the teeth, but bone and guts eaters had big gashes. Today, the surviving breeds still have similar teeth markings from eating their meals. Ancient kitties that noshed on solely meat had teeth similar to modern cats who are super finicky, like the cheetah. In today's world, it's not as vital to eat entire animals as it was when there wasn't much to eat, so cheetahs and other picky cats are able to thrive.
For owners of domesticated kitties like me, you don't really have to worry about your beloved pets not surviving as long as you're around to feed them. I don't think for a second though that my cat wouldn't turn me into a meal if times got too tough. I think I should probably give her an extra cup of kibble tonight just in case she gets any wild ideas from her hunter cousins.