NEAL GRUNDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NEAL GRUNDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Big cat skull. Side (lateral) view of the skull of a big cat with its jaws wide open. The big cats, which include tigers and lions, are carnivores and have large elongated canines (pointed front teeth) typical of predators that hunt their food. The eye sockets in big cats are smaller, relative to skull sizes, than the eye sockets of a domestic cat. The hinge mechanism of the jaws is clearly seen here, allowing the large gape necessary for large cats to subdue their prey. The upwards-pointing section of the lower jaw bone (mandible) swings back into the space behind the cheek bone (zygoma) when the jaw closes. The hollow on the mandible is where parts of the powerful jaw muscles are found.
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