Smilodon populator, saber-toothed cat skull
Smilodon populator, saber-toothed cat skull
Smilodon populator, saber-toothed cat skull
Smilodon populator, saber-toothed cat skull
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Smilodon populator, saber-toothed cat skull

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Smilodon populator Lund, 1841

Known locations: South America.

Time period: Throughout the Pleistocene.

Smilodon populator was the largest sabre-tooth cat (popularly known as the sabre tooth tiger). It was a fierce predator up to 7.5 feet long (not including the tail) and 4 feet tall. It weighed up to 880 pounds. It was a bit smaller than a modern-day lion (Panthera Leo), but much heavier. It had relatively short legs and a short, bobbed tail a bit like that of a modern-day Bobcat which is why it is called that because of its bob-like tail. Its front legs were especially powerful and its body was adapted for springing onto prey, but may not have been a very fast runner and may not have chased after fast running prey like deer. It probably hunted slower animals such as Macrauchenia, Toxodon, some subspecies of Mammoths, Ground Sloths, early humans, etc.

Its 15.5 inch skull had 2 huge sabre-like canine teeth and these were serrated, oval in cross-section, and up to 7 inches long. Many Smilodon fossils have been found with broken canines; a fossil wolf was found with a Smilodon tooth fragment embedded in its skull. Smilodon had powerful jaws that opened to an angle of about 120 degrees while on the other hand, todays lions can only open their jaws at 65 degrees. Smilodon also had very strong jaw and neck muscles that let it stab prey with its deadly maxillary canine sabre teeth. Its front incisor teeth may also have been used to rip away strips of flesh from the bones of its prey.
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