Odd Saber-Toothed Beast Discovered—Preyed on ... Plants?
"It takes some time to believe it when you see this animal," researcher says.
Part of the Anomodontia suborder within the Therapsida order—often called mammal-like reptiles—the 260-million-year-old fossil vegetarian "looks like a combination of different animals, and it takes some time to believe it when you see this animal in front of you," said paleontologist Juan Carlos Cisneros, who discovered the fossil in Brazil.
"It has the incisors of a horse, which are very good for cutting and pulling plants; the big molars of a capybara (picture), for grinding; and the canines of a saber-toothed cat."
(Related: "'Social' Sabertooths Hunted in Packs, Study Says.")
Paleontologist Jörg Fröbisch said the saber teeth are a particular surprise, considering the animal's diet of fibrous plants.
"You would usually expect saber teeth in a carnivore," said Fröbisch,