History and Evolution
There is a common misconception the the fabled 'Sabre-tooth Tiger' of prehistoric times was a direct ancestor of the modern tiger, however it is now believed that the various forms of sabre-tooth, evolved away from a distant common ancestor and became extinct far before the emergence of the modern-day felid ancestors.
Possibly the best known of the sabre-tooths was the Smilodon. The smilodon was probably about the size of an average lion but had a large head in proportion to its body size.
Because of the relatively short tail it is believed that the smilodon did not chase its prey at high speed but rather gave chase over short distances, finally throwing itself at its victim and knocking it over.
Because of the extreme length of the canines it is unlikely that the smilodon dispatched its victim with the neck or throat bite - it is more likely that to save the canines from possible damage, soft fleshy areas were attacked, inflicting many stabbing wounds which would have resulted in its victim bleeding to death.
The Modern 'Sabre-Tooth'?
The Clouded Leopard has. proportionaly, the largest canines of all the living cat species. It is none the less unrelated to the sabre-tooth Machairodonts such as the Smilodon.
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