History and Evolution
The Prehistoric Cats
The Machairodonts shared a common ancestor with today's cat species in Pseudailurus. Amongst the Machairodonts were the famous 'sabre-toohed' cats , which exhibited extraordinary long front canines, protruding below the front jaw.
Amongst the 'sabre-toohed' Machairodonts were the genus Smilodon, found only in the Americas and the genus Homotherium, the remains of which have been found in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Not all of the Machairodonts had sabre-like canines - the genus Dinofelis exhibited front canines somewhere between the sabre-tooth, which in the species Smilodon populator have been found to protrude some 17cm below the jaw and the length of the canines found in the modern 'big cat'.
Naming the Species
- find out how scientific names are applied to the different species
Classification - find out how wild cats are grouped according to species
Evolution - find out about the history of the cat species
Table of Relationships - see how the various cat species are related and have evolved over time.
Timeline - an historic time-line of the 'big cat' species
Prehistoric Cats - find out more about the ancestors of today's wild cat species.
'Sabre-tooth' cats - there is a common misconception the the fabled 'Sabre-tooth Tiger' of prehistoric times was a direct ancestor of the modern tiger - find out more