Saber-toothed cats primarily inhabited the plains of North and South America. They relied on open plains to spot their prey, often attacking out of low-hanging tree branches.
Perhaps the most well known saber-toothed cat is the Smilodon, often referred to as the saber-toothed tiger. Smilodon's territory extended across North and South America, although they are often associated with the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, where thousands of intact remains have been found. Despite its common name, Smilodon was not closely related to the modern tiger. Rather, they tended to resemble modern hyenas, with their hunched shoulders and powerful jaws. Smilodon is also theorized to have hunted in packs similar to hyenas, which allowed it to take down large mammals, such as giant elk, prehistoric cows and even woolly mammoths.
There is evidence that saber-toothed cats existed as recently as 10,000 years ago, which means that they would have overlapped with early humans. This overlap may be partially to blame for the saber-toothed cats' disappearance. Early humans may have hunted the saber-toothed cats' primary prey to the point of extinction. It is also likely that the saber-toothed cats were hunted themselves as they continued to encounter growing populations of early humans.