What Are Sabertooth Tiger Facts?

sabertooth-tiger Credit: Kostyantyn Ivanyshen/Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

Sabertooth tigers appeared in North and South America around 2 million years ago. Sabertooth tigers had large fangs, and looked quite different from other large cats living around the world. Sabertooth tigers had stocky and bulky builds; while large cats like leopards and jaguars are long and lean, sabertooths had stumpy legs, short backs and tails and heavy, muscular builds.

Sabertooth tigers differed biologically and physically from their modern ancestors, starting with their oral cavities. Sabertooth tigers had large upper canines and powerful jaws, which helped them capture and consume prey. These creatures consumed larger mammals, and relied on their sturdy jaws to tear through tough hides and kill prey instantly. As with modern cats, sabertooth tigers preyed on deer, buffalo and antelopes. However, they also ate ground sloths, bison and tapirs. Their powerful jaws and teeth were enclosed in large mouths, which attached to wide, muscular necks; these necks, in turn, were attached to squat and powerful bodies. Sabertooth tigers lived in habitats of grasslands, pine forests and shrub-covered areas. They became extinct around 10,000 B.C.; prehistoric humans and environmental factors like cooling atmospheres and natural disasters, such as floods and droughts, brought their demise. Although extinct, sabertooth tigers remain the official California State Fossil.