In “Archaeologists discover saber-toothed vegetarian” (Washington Post, March 24, 2011), Randolph E. Schmid reports,
The research team notes that large saber-shaped canine teeth are unexpected in a plant-eating animal. They say the enormous teeth may have been for self-defense or for battling for territory or females.
But a friend notes that wholly herbivorous musk deer and Chinese water deer – especially males – have such teeth today,, instead of antlers. Accounts differ as to how they are used – scraping vegetation, attracting attention, or fights over territory. But the “vampire deer” is with us yet.