What Are Some Examples of Prehistoric Cats?


Quick Answer

Smilodons and homotheriums were prehistoric cats within the saber-tooth family. These cats were large felines with massive teeth. Homotherium teeth were sharper than smilodon teeth, and the teeth of the smilodon were slender for targeted killing.

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Full Answer

The smilodon was shorter and heavier than the modern lion. They are most notable for the amount of smilodon remains that were found in the La Brea Tar Pits in California. Smilodons lived from the Pliocene epoch until around 10,000 B.C., a time when humans began hunting the remaining population to extinction. These cats rarely preyed on humans, and they focused on large animals. They were found throughout the plains of North America. Evidence suggests that reliance on large herbivores for food led to the cat's downfall. They used brush and forests to hide before attacking prey.

The homotherium prospered most out of all members of the saber-toothed family and lived in North and South America, Africa, and Eurasia. They roamed these lands from 5 million years ago to 10,000 B.C. They became extinct in Africa 1.5 million years ago, but they survived in Eurasia until 30,000 years ago. Their last place of existence was in North America. The cat earned the nickname "scimitar cat," which stems from the shape of its teeth. Its back legs suggested that it was an extensive jumper for catching prey. These cats' bodies were shaped more like hyenas, and they were scavengers and hunters in packs. They preyed on mammals that included woolly mammoths and humans.

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