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MagazineMar 13, 2015
Santa Monica’s mountain lions caught on camera
The National Park Service in Santa Monica recently released these awesome photos of a 15-month-old female mountain lion cub, called "P-33", feeding with her mother (P-19) and brother (P-32).
Mom! (P-19). Pictures via National Park Service.
Sniff, sniff. A little curiosity about the camera by P-32 (male). Pictures via National Park Service.
Photo bomb by Mom! Pictures via National Park Service.
P-33 (female). Interestingly, P-33 came to the kill site first, alone. She fed by herself for about an hour before her mom and brother showed up. Pictures via National Park Service.
P-33 (female) ripping at the skin to get to the meat. Mountain lions feed on deer by entering the abdominal cavity first and eating the insides, such as the liver and the heart. Pictures via National Park Service.
In this photo, Mom (P-19) has the mouthful of food on the left and P-32 (male) is on the right. P-32 was just collared in December of 2014 -- a collar specially made for sub-adult mountain lions that automatically drops off as they grow larger. Pictures via National Park Service.
Notice how P-33 turns her head to the side while she bites through the deer hide? She is using her carnassial teeth, which are modified molars and premolars that act as shears to cut through the tough hide and meat. These sharp teeth are excellent at cutting and tearing flesh. Cats do not chew their food, so they actually use these carnassial teeth to tear and cut their meat up into smaller pieces to swallow whole. Pictures via National Park Service.
Mountain lion tongues are specially adapted and covered in tiny papillae, which are small, backward curving spines that help remove hair from the hide and scrape meat from the bones. They also help with personal grooming! P-33 (female). Pictures via National Park Service.
That’s Mom in the foreground and P-33 (female) behind her (note the ear tags). Pictures via National Park Service.