Sabretooth's surprising weak bite
The sabretooth tiger may have looked a fearsome sight with its massive canines but its reputation takes something of a knock with a new piece of research.
Scientists who have studied the extinct creature's skull in detail say it had a relatively weak bite - compared with, say, a modern lion.
And although those fangs must have been amazing killing implements, they made for a very restricted hunting strategy.
The scientists report their work in the journal PNAS.
They say the sabretooth in many respects was a one-trip killing machine.
While it would have been a ruthlessly efficient hunter of big game, it was simply over-engineered for taking small prey - and that would have made it extremely vulnerable when times got hard.
"It's one of the golden rules of palaeontology," observed Dr Colin McHenry of the University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia. "Specialisation is short term-success but it is long-term risk; because as soon as the ecosystem becomes destabilised, you're the first candidate to go extinct. It's the generalists that get through," he told BBC News.