Predators, Dreams, and Extinctions — chasing sabretooths

From one of my favorite blogs, prehistoric cats and beautiful illustrations from paleo-artist Mauricio Antón. I love his work and this piece in particular has an important and timely message!

“Now as you look to the assembly of magnificent carnivorans from the Miocene of Batallones, just imagine your grandchildren facing a similar illustration, but showing the lion, leopard, wolf, lynx, polar bear… by then completely extinct in the wild. Imagine the desolation of knowing that there is nowhere in the world where lions or tigers reign as sabertooths reigned in the distant past. Today those places still exist but if one day they disappear it will be, at least in part, because of our own idleness. Just by having a clear opinion and making it heard, or through our vote, we can make a difference. But trying to convince ourselves that extinction doesn´t matter is perhaps the ultimate sign of cowardice, and thinking that future generations will not be aware enough of their loss to reproach us is the farthest thing from a consolation. We need the fossils in the museums and the living predators out in the wild. Each thing in its place!”

I remember well the first excavations at the fossil site of Batallones-1, over a quarter of a century ago. After some teeth of the saber-tooth cat Promegantereon appeared at the site it seemed likely that, for the first time ever, a complete skull of the mysterious animal could be found. Back then, that possibility excited […]

via Predators, Dreams, and Extinctions — chasing sabretooths


Paw Prints From The Past

South America recently revealed a fossil that is the first ever documented paw prints made by the long extinct saber-toothed cat also known as Smilodon.

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Paw prints from the past  – Image – Science – Daniel Boh/Museo Municipal de Miramar

The announcement was made by Paleontologists in Punta Hermengo, Argentina where they are calling the find a “small revelation”. Researchers said that the tracks were likely made by the largest of the three saber-toothed cats Smilodon populator whose paws were about 20 percent larger than that of a Bengal Tiger.

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Of the three species of Saber-tooth cat Smilodon populator is similar to but larger than the it’s well-known relative Smilodon fatalis, whose remains have been found at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles – Image Wikipedia

Approximately 50,000 years ago the big cat took a walk through the area and left behind impressions of both the front and hind paws which would end up being preserved in the “fine, grainy sediment”. The prints measure 17.6 centimeters (6.9 inches) in length and 19.1 centimeters (7.5) in width, with the front paw being the larger of the two.

Smilodon populator is thought to have lived only in South America during the Lujanian age, a geologic time period spanning the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene, and while researchers have said that the paw prints do have very similar morphological features to that of its smaller relative Smilodon fatalis they can’t be 100 % sure which cat they belong to. Due to the difficulty in connecting fossil footprints to the actual animals that made them the tracks will get their own name, based on where they were found in the Miramar region of Punta Hermengo, and be called Smilodon miramensis.