There are many cool prehistoric big cats, but if I had to narrow it down I would say Smilodon aka Saber-tooth Cat has to top my list, sometimes called Saber-Tooth Tiger even though they aren’t related to modern Tigers, they are also known as the deadliest cat of all time and three species lived in North and South America:
- Smallest, Smilodon gracilis, was about the size of a modern-day Jaguar
- Smilodon fatalis was as big as a lion
- Smilodon populator which reached up to 500 kgs (1102lbs) when fully grown
What did this big cat like? They liked Trees, open spaces, slow-moving prey and the art of ambush! They are thought to have lived very much like African Lions in prides even taking care of injured group members and perhaps using cooperative hunting methods.
My, what big teeth you have! 8.5 inches to be exact. Sadly bigger may not have been better as the large but brittle teeth were prone to breaking and this meant they couldn’t bite into bone. This made Smilodon a wasteful eater as they had to stick to the “soft” parts.
The most famous Smilodon fossils are the ones preserved in California at the La Brea tar-pits which was a magnet back in the day attracting hapless prey who got stuck, which in turn attracted the big cats for an easy meal, who also got stuck. The large number of Smilodon fossils at the tar-pit made it easier for scientist to figure out a lot about their lives.
Smilodon was very successful at being a top predator so it is not really known why it went extinct, but the arrival of humans about 13,000 years ago and with that “the sudden extinction of large herbivores” (prey) could account for its demise.
What Smilodon lacked in agility it made up for with strength and power going so far as to take out its competition in South America by driving its less adaptable competitors to extinction. If this cat was playing prehistoric survivor it would have got my vote for the fan favorite.