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Freak Felids - A Discussion of History's Largest Felines

United States tigerluver Offline
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Sorry everyone, I miss a lot of alerts as they get backlogged. Please PM me if I have missed a mention.

The Ngandong tiger is probably around 120 cm when mounted in anatomical position. It's proximal AP diameter is abnormally long so it may have been proportionately longer. 

The Watualang mandible is 254 mm with the anterior symphysis and coronoid process missing. Probably 260 to 270 mm complete.

P. t. soloensis is probably no longer a taxonomically accurate name as naming conventions evolve, or rather become more strict. You'll notice Hertler et al. don't use anything but P. tigris. From Brongersma:
"The fossil form seems, however, to reach a much greater size than the recent Javanese subspecies, and it is not at all improbable that it will have to be retained as a distinct subspecies, which then should be known as Panthera tigris groeneveldtii (Dubois). Probably the larger specimens described as F. palaeojavanica were the males, the smaller ones described by Von Koenigswald as Felis tigris soloensis females."

Dubois got there first is the general idea behind the above.

The Bornean specimen will likely never get subspecific classification as long as studies keep indicating a recent divergence date of subspecies if any subspecies classification is worth it at all. It is similar to how we loosely classify P. spelaea.
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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(01-14-2022, 07:13 AM)tigerluver Wrote: The Watualang mandible is 254 mm with the anterior symphysis and coronoid process missing. Probably 260 to 270 mm complete.

In this case, guessing that the mandible is about 265 mm long, we can try to reconstruct its size compared to other modern tigers.

I got a sample of 58 skulls with an asociated mandible (39 are from wild specimens), all of them males and from different subspecies/populations. This is the result:

*This image is copyright of its original author


As we can see, there is an strong relation between the length of the mandible and the greatest skull length. Now, if we use only wild specimens, this is the result:

*This image is copyright of its original author


We can check that the difference in the relation is minimal and it is known that tiger skulls do not have a great variation in captivity like, for example, the lions. However, there is a peak there that is creting problems and that is the skull reported by Baikov, with a GSL of 400 mm but a mandible length of only 240 mm. Mazák (2013) mentioned that is posible that this skull was incorrectly measured or that Baikov measured the mandible in another form that the one that Zoologist do. So I remouved this specimen and check what happen:

*This image is copyright of its original author


When we remouve this outliner value the relation is even stronger, so we can safetilly use the mandible length to estimate the GL of the skull in male tigers. The other outliner (not as dramatic as the other) in the graphic is the large skull of 370 mm in GSL and only 230 mm in ML, that based in DNA it came from Malaysia (Heino et al., 2018).

Using the equation generated by Excel, using only the wild specimens, and excluding the skull reported by Baikov, we can estimate a GSL of about 393 mm for the mandible from Watualangat, which is larger than the complete skull found in Ngandong (something that was pointed out by others already) but is still smaller than the huge skull of 406 mm reported (not measured) by Mazák.

Now, there is something interesting. When I use only the skulls for the Amur tigers, I got this result:

*This image is copyright of its original author


The correlation is strong but not as much as the overall sample, but what happen when I remouve the captive specimens and the Baikov record? Check this:

*This image is copyright of its original author


The result is that we have one of the strongest correlations on record and also indirectly we can see that the value of the mandible in the giant skull reported by Mazák did match the other ones, adding points to its reliability.


What can I conclude on this? Using the mandible length we can get a reliable for to estimate the size of the skull in male tigers, also that while the skull reported by Baikov seems to have errors, the one reported by Mazák seems to be more reliable at the light of values. And finally that the mandible from Watualang came from an specimen that was bigger than those from Ngandong, at exception of the one with the big femur.
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LonePredator Offline
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@GuateGojira Just wanted to hear your opinion on the Bornear Tiger from Pleistocene. Weren't the fossils too fragmented? Also can we safely say that the Bornean Tiger completely dwarfed all other felines that we know of??

And do you have any size estimates? Like length, height and weight of the Bornean Tiger? Was it significantly bigger than all the other giant species or was the size difference not that big?
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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(01-16-2022, 08:47 AM)LonePredator Wrote: @GuateGojira Just wanted to hear your opinion on the Bornear Tiger from Pleistocene. Weren't the fossils too fragmented? Also can we safely say that the Bornean Tiger completely dwarfed all other felines that we know of??

And do you have any size estimates? Like length, height and weight of the Bornean Tiger? Was it significantly bigger than all the other giant species or was the size difference not that big?

Well, although the fossil is actually just a fragment of mandible, that is not impediment for Paleontologist to estimate the size of extint animals. The great advantage here is that this is an animal that we actually know (is a regular tiger, just that much bigger), so we can use modern specimens to estimate its size and weight in a reliable form.

To say that this tiger dwarfed all other modern and prehistoric cats in history is to risky, as we will need to make more studies. For the moment, the largest cat (body dimentions) that I know is the cave "lion" Panthera spelaea fossilis, represented by the huge skull of 484.7 mm in greatest length (the biggest skull for any felid at this moment) and the heaviest cat will be Smilodon populator, which certainly surpassed the 400 kg, using the specimen housed in Paris. So, probably this giant Pleistocene tiger from Borneo could match them in size and weight.

I still don't make any size estimation for this specimen, but based in the study Sherani (2019) this is certainly the biggest fossil tiger at this moment, with an estimated body mass of C.480 kg, although personally I think that the figure of 427.8 kg, based in the mandible length (check the paper for details) is the more reliable one.
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United States tigerluver Offline
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Mandible length of fragment is affected by allometry. The "mandible length" measurement in the tiger paper is not the same as complete mandible length. Rather, you will see that as the mandible size increased, the surrogate "mandible length" comprises proportionately less and less of the total mandible. In other words, positive allometry. Here is a visual:


*This image is copyright of its original author

The larger specimens have a shorter horizontal ramus and surrogate mandible length compared to total mandible length. You will see here that comparison of the surrogate "mandible length" between 1a and 3a will underestimate 3a by a massive 17% (65/76). Therefore, the clean isometric relation of total mandible length does not apply. This is why height and width dimensions of the ramus are important, as there is less allometric effect on estimation theoretically when we pool together many measurements. This is also probably why multiple measurements are used in the estimate, to make up for this error. It is important to know these allometric relationships before choosing a single measurement as "most accurate" as clearly, the surrogate mandible length has hefty underestimation.

The comparative specimen used to estimate via mandible length is very small. As such, using a scale factor of 3 would underestimate the mass as the actual scale factor is greater than 3.

It may happen in time that the Christiansen estimations show to be underestimates across the board. The database is measured from digital photos, which can result in measurements a bit exaggerated as compared to in person measurements. This underestimates any specimen not also measured digitally.
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United States acutidens150 Offline
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After hearing about the 475 mm Panthera spelaea skull, is it possible that it's actually larger than P. atrox?
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Italy LoveAnimals Offline
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(01-18-2022, 10:27 AM)acutidens150 Wrote: After hearing about the 475 mm Panthera spelaea skull, is it possible that it's actually larger than P. atrox?
Panthera spelaea IS larger than the American lion with current data although the chances of both being very close in size is possible
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