Fossil Animal of the Quarter-
The Saber -Tooth Cat
Don't call them tigers! That's from the Flintstones. They're not actually closely related to tigers.
Saber tooth cats evolved over time through a few species which developed larger saber teeth and larger overall sizes through the Miocene to Pleistocene epochs about 5 million to 10,000 yrs ago. This culminated in the largest and last of the line, Smilodon.
Smilodon was about the same length as a large African lion today but was much more stocky and muscular and weighed 20-30% more due to these differences. That made the saber-tooth less of a runner but more of an ambush predator. Scientists theorize Saber-cats pinned their prey to the ground with their weight and delivered a killing bite to the neck or belly of their prey. Bites in these softer areas would save the cat's sabers from breakage from biting into bone and would kill by blood loss or suffocation.
Saber cats could also open their jaws at a 90 degree angle, more than the 60 degrees of all other cats to clear the sabers for biting off meat.
Smilodon shared the world of the late Pleistocene with American Lions, short-faced bears, jaguars, cheetahs, dire wolves and other huge carnivores. Makes me glad to not be born 15,000 years ago when the first people arrived here!