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Freak Felids - A Discussion of History's Largest Felines

Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#46

(06-28-2014, 11:24 AM)'tigerluver' Wrote: Thanks everyone for the kind words [img]images/smilies/biggrin.gif[/img].

You make an interesting point GrizzlyClaws. I think I can connect that P. atrox in a way. The bone robusticity of P. atrox is pretty the same as modern lions, but wow, does it have huge nares. It needed all that extra air for something. Cursoriality is big cause, but I'm sure extra muscle was a factor as well.

Bones are probably just a framework for what can be, not what is. I remember a poster known as Ursus posting info that wide bones didn't always produce muscle bound specimens. 

As my primary focus right now is tiger evolution in university, I've been scrounging up info on the prey items of the area. Unfortunately, fossil records are as poor as the Ngandong tiger itself. It looks as if there were some large buffalo and rhino-like species living on the Sonda shelf. I'd guess it take a lot of firepower to wrestle down one of those beasts. This is the main reason why I became interested in reconstructing the individual's dimensions and applying them to wild specimens. The wild specimens are the closest we'll get to seeing the prehistoric's felines' builds in my opinion.

 
Pleistocene Java was full of deer and wild pig, wild buffaloes, rhinos and hippopotamus, and some type of proboscidians like the stegodons. I think that the best comparison in modern days will be a Ranthambore-like habitat with the prey density and class of that of Nagarahole.
 
In mainland, tigers have all the modern prey items that we already know, with the only add of the giant primates.
 
Sunquist (1981) stated that tiger evolution “followed the Pliocene radiation of the cervids in southeast Asia, as the evolution of larger bodied forest/grassland ungulates (e.g., Axis, Rusa, Cervus, Bos and Sus) probably created a niche for a larger bodied forest edge predator”, in this case, the mighty tiger.
 
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United States tigerluver Offline
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#47
( This post was last modified: 06-28-2014, 11:59 AM by tigerluver )

This is really good document which goes over megafauna from China to Java, conveniently, the Wahnsien and Ngandong tiger's range. 
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/...heast_Asia

Pleistocene Southern China:

*This image is copyright of its original author


Pleistocene Java:

*This image is copyright of its original author
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#48
( This post was last modified: 06-28-2014, 12:07 PM by GuateGojira )

Excellent data. However, they ignored (in Java) the existence of several deer species, some of them, as large as or larger than the modern Sambar from India.
 
Like I say before, the Sunda was a tiger paradise.
 
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United States tigerluver Offline
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#49

I've updated the felid chart. I found a specimen dubious and removed it. The weights look more probable to me. 

Question for all. Which bulkiness do you think the Ngandong tiger had, the Bengal or the Amur? Depending on that choice, one estimate is preferred over the other.
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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#50

Baikal is the only modern tiger comparable to the Ngandong tiger in term of size.

Consider the Ngandong specimen was a wild tiger with slightly more pumped up muscles compared to the prime Baikal, maybe over 900 pounds for the Ngandong specimen, whilst the prime Baikal close to 900 pounds.
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#51

(06-28-2014, 11:04 PM)'tigerluver' Wrote: I've updated the felid chart. I found a specimen dubious and removed it. The weights look more probable to me. 

Question for all. Which bulkiness do you think the Ngandong tiger had, the Bengal or the Amur? Depending on that choice, one estimate is preferred over the other.

 
Mmmm, very hard question. The femur looks like that of the captive Amur tigers, the dimentions match, however the skull doesn't resemble the mainland tigers, but those of the Sunda. I think that they were probably more close to that of the modern Bengal tigers, but those from Nagarahole or Ranthambore, which are muscular but not extremely bulkier (like those of Kaziranga or Nepal).
 
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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#52

The prime Baikal was also not very bulky, but very muscular.

I got a feeling that the only bulky prehistoric tiger would be the Wanhsien tiger.
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United States tigerluver Offline
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#53

(06-29-2014, 10:06 AM)GuateGojira Wrote:
(06-28-2014, 11:04 PM)'tigerluver' Wrote: I've updated the felid chart. I found a specimen dubious and removed it. The weights look more probable to me. 

Question for all. Which bulkiness do you think the Ngandong tiger had, the Bengal or the Amur? Depending on that choice, one estimate is preferred over the other.

 
Mmmm, very hard question. The femur looks like that of the captive Amur tigers, the dimentions match, however the skull doesn't resemble the mainland tigers, but those of the Sunda. I think that they were probably more close to that of the modern Bengal tigers, but those from Nagarahole or Ranthambore, which are muscular but not extremely bulkier (like those of Kaziranga or Nepal).
 

I couldn't find any significant difference in the femur proportions between the two "Bengal" and three Amur specimens cited by Christiansen. Furthermore, I also learned that the only compatible measurement with the Christiansen data of Koenigswald's is total length. The two methods of measurement have a strong uncertainty between one another. The tiger's published dimensions have at least a +/- 1 mm uncertainty (this small amount has a strong effect on the resulting epicondylar index), while the Christiansen document only has an uncertainty of +/- 0.1 mm. It seems the method in the early 1900s was slightly different. Just take a look at the difference of Christiansen P. atrox measurements of the same skulls cited by Merriam and Stock. Even an easy dimension as total length is 0.5 -1 mm off it seems. This disparity isn't too harmful for the larger measurements, but is too strong at small measurements (width measurements) to produce a reliable comparison. 

(06-29-2014, 10:14 AM)GrizzlyClaws Wrote: The prime Baikal was also not very bulky, but very muscular.

I got a feeling that the only bulky prehistoric tiger would be the Wanhsien tiger.

Looking back at my notes I found the humerus and tibia might be the best reflectors of bulkiness. For example, the 230 kg tiger cited by Christiansen and Harris had the thinner femur and ulna, but thickest humerus and tibia. I took the height and length of the specimens and found what one could call "planar surface area." Related weight to that value to find the bulkiness. The specimen with the most robust humerus and tibia and thinner femur and ulna was the bulkiest. 

Though, there is one glaring problem with Christiansen's data. Comparing them to wild specimens shows specimens with awkward weights. The largest lion he records was probably overweight and these tigers probably underweight. Taking into account a study that discussed obesity causing thickening of bones and Ursus's conclusion that some thinner bones had more muscle mass around them, this is one convuluted mystery. And it gets worse.

Regardless, Hooijer stated that the length-width index was exactly tiger-like, so there's no evidence in favor of the Wahnsien variety being bulkier based on the observation above. Interestingly, the length-width index for tiger subspecies cited by Hooijer is essentially the same across the island and mainland subspecies. That makes me wonder, is there even a reliable way to gauge the bulkiness of tigers through long bones? For sure the larger specimens are bulkier, the length data I posted earlier proves it. It just won't reflect in the bones on record. Of course, this mystery is only for Panthera and tigers especially as variation is relatively little. Smilodon is a totally different beast.

Finally, my opinion is that the 480 mm Ngandong tiger was relatively bulkier than the modern tiger. The longer the cat, the bulkier it is, it just comes with the territory. Even without looking at the numbers, the Terai tigers seem quite long compared to other tigers, and as Guate stated, they're relatively bulkier.



 
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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#54

That's a load of information about the physical characteristics of the Panthera members.

Only those robust skulls from China gave me an impression that the Wanhsien tiger could be very bulky.

And it would be interesting to see how far the skull could deal with the robusticity of the specimen.
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#55
( This post was last modified: 06-29-2014, 07:11 PM by GuateGojira )

Interesting point Tigerluver. I also found no evidence of a greater size or massiveness for the Wanhsien tiger, the maximum body mass that I calculated for this population was of 267 kg, based in its large dentition. This is equal than modern Amur-Bengal tiger records which range between 250-260 kg in normal maximum values.

However, the problem here is that the only long bones from the Wanhsien tiger are from small specimens, and interesting even those from Panthera youngi are even smaller! The giant skulls from that area are key to understand the size of this great cat, sadly we don't have its measurements.

About the Sunda giant femur, I believed that they were no diferent from modern tigers in proportion too, and even when the measurement method are variable, the comparative values still resemble each other. This was more reliable in the humerus comparison, which are slightly wider than modern tigers. I don't know how much bulkiness can produce those extra millimeters.
 
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United States tigerluver Offline
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#56

According to what I've analyzed  a few millimeters in the humerus and tibia produce significant bulkiness. But again, the captive specimens are dubious and awkward and don't well reflect their wild counterparts especially in the light of the last two studies on bone width and muscle I mentioned in my last post.

The Wahnsien skull will always taunt us.[img]images/smilies/angry.gif[/img]

And the femur, pretty much. The range of tigers is .18-.195 about in epicondylar index, and no matter what uncertainty, the femur should fall into that. 

It's interesting how across the board the older species had narrow skulls. Evolution is a bit slow here it looks like, as these cats were more like their supposed weasel-like ancestor.
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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#57
( This post was last modified: 06-30-2014, 12:15 AM by GrizzlyClaws )

(06-29-2014, 11:56 PM)'tigerluver' Wrote: According to what I've analyzed  a few millimeters in the humerus and tibia produce significant bulkiness. But again, the captive specimens are dubious and awkward and don't well reflect their wild counterparts especially in the light of the last two studies on bone width and muscle I mentioned in my last post.

The Wahnsien skull will always taunt us.[img]images/smilies/angry.gif[/img]

And the femur, pretty much. The range of tigers is .18-.195 about in epicondylar index, and no matter what uncertainty, the femur should fall into that. 

It's interesting how across the board the older species had narrow skulls. Evolution is a bit slow here it looks like, as these cats were more like their supposed weasel-like ancestor.

 


The new Manas male got a larger head than Madla who got a skull to be around 16 inches.

I think it is very probable for the large male Pleistocene tigers to have the skull over 17 inches or even 18 inches.
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United States tigerluver Offline
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Robusticity through the ages of Panthera tigris

I've finally an estimate of the relative robusticity of each tiger subspecies. The subspecies analyzed are all those accepted by Mazak (1981). Pictures can be deceiving, but numbers are not.

Method:
Using a similar growth chart to the one posted here (I removed one value, changing the equation. I'm keeping that to myself for now due to publishing issues), I was able to statistically determine which subspecies are proportionately heavier. The bones themselves gave no indication of what's happening, so I analyzed the predicted mass of each subspecies using Panthera tigris tigris as the basis for comparison. If the subspecies fall above the prediction, it's more robust, if below, less robust. 

Results:
To keep everything short and sweet. Here are the results:
Subspecies% Difference
P.t. corbetti-3.5
P.t. amoyensis12.1
P.t. virgata4.4
P.t. altaica-14
P.t. sumatrae4.8
P.t. sondaica14.8
P.t. balica9.3
P.t tigris0
Negatives means item fell below the line, positives vice versa.

The most striking proportianately difference is shown in the island tigers. Unanimously, they are proportionately heavier than the Bengal tiger. The Amur tiger (Russian Far East tiger) was historically the lightest built subspecies, even at its greatest length (where positive allometry makes the specimens more robust). P.t. virgata is shown here to be more robust than the Amur. P.t. corbetti is a bit less robust than P.t. tigris and much less robust than the similar sized P.t. amoyensis. 

Conclusions:
P.t. sumatrae, considered the hybrid product of mainland and island tiger, is in the middle ground between the island subspecies and the geographically closest mainland relative, P.t. corbetti. This could be evidence to support the hybridized subspecie theory.

P.t. altaica being so much less robust than the rest of the subspecies indicates a possible long-term environmental stressor. Lack of food and high cursoriality are possible problems, calling for a lighter built. The difference between P.t. altaica and P.t. virgata also gives some support to the old tiger taxonimic idea of these two being different subspecies, but a stress population of the same subspecies is also a legitamate argument. 

P.t. tigris itself is also not too robust. It falls in line with the recently evolved mainland subspecies, essentially. 

Thus, it seems, bar the primitive South chinese variety, all the modern mainland subspecies are less robust compared to the island subspecies. The more recently evovled ones, namely P.t. tigris and P.t. altaica, are especially less robust, indicating a reduction of robusticity with time. 
 
The two most primitive, long and thin skulled subspecies, P.t. sondaica and P.t. amoyensis, are proportionately the most robust of the tigers, with P.t. sondaica being the greatest. The data shows that skull width is not correlated with the rest of the body's proportional mass. This observation also leads me to tentatively say that the Pleistocene giant tigers, P.t. acutidens and P.t. soloensis, were more robust than the Bengal tigers used to predict their masses. Application of the percent differnece of P.t. sondaica to the P.t. soloensis estimate (full dimensional) results in a mass of 500 kg. Though, I dislike applying percent differences directly due to the differences not staying consistent with allometric trends. Scaling the femur to more Javan dimensions results in a mass of 470 kg. 

More to come...
 
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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#59

It is interesting that the robusticity in the tiger species has correlated with the primitivism.

I wonder if the lion-like cats did also follow this evolutionary trend.
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Netherlands peter Offline
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#60
( This post was last modified: 07-17-2014, 12:49 PM by peter )

Good post, but I wonder about your definition of robusticy. Over the years, I collected reliable measurements and weights of wild tigers. Adult males of Panthera tigris tigris averaged roundabout 190 cm. in head and body straight and 190 kg. a century ago and about 195 cm. and well over 200 kg. today. Wild Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) are second with 195 cm. in head and body straight and, according to Miquelle, 195 kg. today. In all other subspecies, males do not get to 1 kg. per 1 cm. in head and body length. The conclusion is Indian tigers are more robust than other subspecies.

Hunters, forest officials and naturalists, regarding the relation between weight and zygomatic width in wild tigers, thought there probably was a relation between skull width and weight in Indian tigers (males). Your conclusions say no relation. 

My guess is it has something to do with what you describe as 'predicted mass'. I like equations, ingredients and predictions, but it seems I missed something. Explanation much appreciated.

After reading about the bones found in Java and seeing the skulls found in central and northern parts of China, I tend to agree with the assumption regarding time and robusticy in that some tiger subspecies in some regions could have been larger in the past. More exceptional animals would also have been likely. The reason would have been more and larger prey animals and much less restraints.

The latest subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, Panthera tigris altaica and Panthera tigris virgata) could be more cursorial and less robust as a result of less food and much more restraints, but the lack of fossils inhibits general remarks on then and now. We just don't know.

We do know small, but well-stocked, reserves and many tigers result in more competition, more casualties and larger (more robust) tigers. In India.

A similar development might have occured in the Imperial Hunting Reserve at the border of China, Korea and Russia a few centuries ago, but Marco Polo, although he mentioned Emperors, Hunting Reserves and North-China, apparently had not heard about this particular reserve. If there was one, it must have been created after he left and destroyed when the old dynasties collapsed. My guess is there was one, but it's a guess.
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