Strange Science: A Reinterpretation of Saber-Tooth Cats

Fossilized Smilodon fatalis (saber-tooth cat)Paleontologists working with fossilized saber-tooth cat remains found preserved in the La Brea tar pits in California have determined that some of what we previously believed about these prehistoric big cats may be incorrect.

Many illustrations of saber-tooth cats show them taking down large prey animals, such as bison or horses. Paleontologists now believe that their prey was smaller animals, such as tapirs or deer. Rather than hunting out in the open, these big cats were likely hunting in more forested environments, where the smaller herbivores resided. Unfortunately for them, their dietary choices meant that when these forest-dwelling herbivores began to die out, so too did the saber-tooth cats. Meanwhile, other predators, who were more adaptable in their prey choices, survived longer, some even into the modern day.

You can read more about this new research and conclusions here!

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