Where Do the Saber-Tooth Tigers Live?

Thomas Quine/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Saber-tooth tigers no longer live anywhere, as they went extinct nearly 2,000 years ago in 10,000 BC. It is believed that the species went extinct when the first American settlers hunted them to disappearance.

In their prime, saber-tooth tigers roamed the continents of North and South America, favoring the forests and grasslands. The animal was named for its large, protruding teeth that grew more than 7 inches in length. They were carnivorous and one of the deadliest predators of their time, hunting deer, bison and woolly mammoths. Saber-tooth tigers traveled in large packs and weighed an average of 660 pounds.

According to the University of Berkeley, there are multiple types of “saber-toothed cats” and many areas where a diversity of fossils have been discovered. Such areas are all over North and South America, but the term saber-toothed tiger popularly refers to the ancient North American cats found predominantly in the mid-western and western North American states.

Saber-toothed tiger is only a colloquial term. There is no such thing as a true saber-toothed tiger, because none of these cats have any relation to modern-day tigers. The saber-tooth “tiger” is a state symbol of California, where over 2000 skeletons have been recovered. The specific type of cat in California is known as the Smilodon. The Smilodon is perhaps the most well-known of all saber-toothed cat varieties. The Smilodon lived in closed habitats, such as a forest or in bushes, which was ideal for ambushing prey. Another saber-toothed cat found in North America is the Hoplophoneus. The Hoplophoneus is not a true tiger and is much smaller, but has a similar appearance to the Smilodon. In South America, there is another type of saber-toothed cat, the thylacosmilids. The thylacosmilids are marsupial cats with similar saber-tooth morphology. This type’s fossils have been found in Colombia, Uruguay and the Argentinian Patagonia.