Sabre-toothed cat

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Sabre-toothed cat (extinct)
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Class Information
Class Mammalia
Order Information
Order Carnivora
Family Information
Family Felidae
Sub-family Machairodontinae
Genus Information
Genus Smilodon
Species Information
Species S. fatalis
S. gracilis
S. populator
Subspecies S. fatalis californicus
S. fatalis floridus
Population statistics

Sabre-toothed cat refers to a number of extinct large felids of the sub-family Machairodontinae, especially the genus Smilodon, and characterized by a pair of large knife-like teeth from which the animals get their name.


From the remains of individuals recovered in the Americas, the saber-tooth cat was stocky in build which gave the animal a bear-like appearance rather than the lean, sinuous look found in present-day cats. The forelimbs were larger and more heavily-muscled than the hindlimbs, with a slight slope front to back, and the tail was short. In weight the sabre-tooth cat was estimated between 500-750 pounds, about the size of a modern lion or tiger. It is speculated that the over-all structure of the sabre-tooth indicated an animal which stalked and hunted its prey from ambush; skeletal remains found in Rancho La Brea which show healing from injuries have also indicated that it may have been a social animal as well.

The most unique feature, and one which made the sabre-tooth one of the better-known prehistoric animals of any kind, was the 8-inch canines which jutted from the upper jaw. These canines had serrated edges as well, allowing them to cut through skin and flesh with ease, while the lower jaw was able to swing open to 120 degrees to allow their full use as stabbing weapons; however, the bite itself was judged via computer modeling to have been relatively-weak. This had led scientists to determine that the most likely use for them was to stab and cut through the vital neck arteries and windpipe or the lower abdomen in a single maneuver; certainly the large muscular forequarters would have aided in the control and subduing of its prey just prior to their use, where they died quickly through rapid blood loss or shock. Its prey at the time would have been the large megafauna (mammoths, ground sloths, bison, etc.) which co-existed with it.


There are two views of thought as to the origins of the sabre-tooth cat: the first is a slow change over time via the process described in the theory of evolution, while the other states a direct creation via an act of God.

Evolutionary model

According to evolution, the sabre-tooth cat had its origins in the Oligocene Epoch, (about 36,000,000 years ago) with an ancestor called Hoplophoneus; by the Pliocene Epoch (1.6,000,000 years ago) they were in Asia and Africa, and by the Pleistocene (30,000 years ago) they had entered South America. During this period of time they had evolved in size until Smilodon populator, one of the largest cats of any kind. It is assumed that the sabre-tooth became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, 10,000 years ago.

Creation model

Creation science argues that the sabre-tooth was created with the rest of terrestrial animal life on the sixth day according to the Bible. This argument is supported by the fossil record which shows the remains of fully-developed animals; to date there have been no examples of transitional fossils found, and the evolution of the sabre-tooth as currently described by main stream science cannot be proven under the four steps of the Scientific method.