Tough times at La Brea: Tooth breakage in large carnivores of the Late Pleistocene

One million to two million years ago, most of today's large, predatory mammals coexisted with larger extinct species, such as saber-toothed cats and giant running bears. Comparisons of tooth fracture frequencies from modern and Pleistocene carnivores imply that predator-prey dynamics and interspecific interactions must have been substantially different 36,000 to 10,000 years ago. Tooth fracture frequencies of four Rancho La Brea species-dire wolf, coyote, saber-toothed cat, and American lion-were about three times that of extant carnivores. Consequently, these findings suggest that these species utilized carcasses more fully and likely competed more intensely for food than presentday large carnivores.