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saber-toothed tiger

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"The most distinctive feature of the saber-toothed cat is its long and sharp canine teeth. It will hide in the grass, wait in ambush, and then pounce on its prey, killing it with one bite."

saber tooth tiger 1

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Saber-toothed cats roamed the Americas freely from about 2.5 million years ago until the species became extinct about 11,700 years ago. It is an apex predator, hunting large animals in packs. Even the American mastodon, which stands more than 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighs 12 tons (5,455 kilograms), is not immune to this predator.

Its only real enemy is humans. Human hunters and temperature changes are thought to have contributed to the animal's extinction.

Amazing Saber Toothed Tiger Facts!

  • The canine teeth of saber-toothed cats averaged 14 centimeters. (7 inches) . They can reach 28 cm. (11 inches) long is the largest S. populator species.
  • Thousands of saber-toothed cat fossils were found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. They get trapped in the tar trying to prey on other trapped animals. It is the second most common fossil at the site . The creature may have enjoyed a fine meal before slowly sinking to its death in the tar.
  • The largest species can weigh up to 400 kg. (882 lbs) . They're probably almost 100 centimeters across. (39.4 inches) tall when standing on four legs, a much taller 175 cm. (68.9 inches) when raised to pounce on prey.
  • This animal was very different from modern tigers or cats. No direct descendants exist today.
  • Scientists have determined from fossilized bones of its vocal cords that saber-toothed cats could have roared like modern lions , and possibly much louder.

scientific name

Smilodon - saber-toothed cat, man-made model for outdoor shot
Saber-toothed tiger is the scientific name of the saber-toothed tiger.

© Sfocato/Shutterstock.com

The scientific name of saber-toothed tiger is Saber-toothed tiger . There are three species of saber-toothed cats. Smilodon gracalis is thought to have evolved from Meganterreon. The Meganterreon is a saber-toothed cat that lived in Africa, Eurasia, and North America. Smilodon populator and Smilodon fatalis are likely descendants of the smaller Smilodon gracilis .

The root definition of the name Smilodon is a double-edged knife with one tooth. This predatory mammal is named for its prominent canine teeth. The most famous saber-toothed cat is the saber-toothed cat, or saber-toothed cat, as most people call it.

Here is the scientific taxonomic rank of saber-toothed cats:

  • Field: Eukaryotes
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Category: Mammals
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Feline
  • Subfamily: Cynodonts
  • Tribe: Smilodontini
  • Genus: Saber-toothed tiger

Types of saber-toothed tigers

Scientists currently recognize three different species of saber-toothed cats:

  • saber-toothed tiger population
  • saber-toothed tiger
  • saber-toothed tiger


Skeleton of a saber-toothed cat (Hoplophoneus primaevus). Isolated background.
Skeletal remains of saber-toothed cats are rare in the archaeological world.

©Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/Shutterstock.com

Saber-toothed cats are distinguished from other saber-toothed cats, such as saber-toothed cats, because they lived in the Americas and also displayed larger, more pronounced features. Complete fossils of saber-toothed cats are rare, and often controversial when they do appear. Because of this, the anatomy and appearance of saber-toothed cats are largely unknown, and depictions rely on the imagination of artists to fill in the gaps that science has yet to discover. What is known about the saber-toothed cat is that it first evolved from a branch of the cat family into a distinct species in the late Pleistocene, far removed from modern cats. Geneticists were also able to use DNA from saber-toothed cat teeth to collect pictures of what these ferocious predators once ate.

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The fossil record preserves only the bones, making the animal's true appearance uncertain. The sabre-toothed cat's body color likely enabled it to camouflage itself in the tall grass and wait for prey. This means that if it hunts at night, it could be brown, tan, white, yellow or even black. It may have been found to aid camouflage.

saber-toothed tiger
No one knows exactly what a saber-toothed cat looked like, aside from its vicious mouth.

©Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com


saber tooth tiger
Saber-toothed cats find food easily.

© James St. John/Flickr – License

The animal's hunting strategy was likely similar to that of modern lions. In theory, they hunt in packs with their pride. They may wander around looking for an area with a good prospect of a meal, then hunker down and stay still, waiting for prey to get close enough to pounce. This is ambush-style predatory hunting.

Studies of the dental markings on the teeth of saber-toothed cats have shown that they ate not many bones, so they likely had an adequate supply of food for an easy-to-kill animal. Their attack method is to bite a deep gash in the vital point of the prey, and then wait for the prey to bleed.

The scientists came to this conclusion because the large teeth were easily broken if used for grasping. The creature can wrestle an animal down with its front paws and forearms, then bite its neck and slit its throat. The teeth of most saber-toothed cat fossils found are intact, leading to the conclusion that the lethal bite was used as a hunting method.

Their prey will be surprised by the attack and be fatally wounded by one or more bites in a group attack. The animals then follow the prey as it tries to escape while bleeding profusely. When an animal loses enough blood, it collapses and dies. Then, it was time to eat. All prides will eat together, and the game will be shared among those who are older, those who are too young to hunt, and those who are lame or sick.

Fossils show that many saber-toothed cats lived long and healthy lives. Some recovered from injuries such as broken bones that could have stopped the hunt. This means that another saber-tooth cat helped them get food when they were old or recovering from injuries. They are vicious killers; nonetheless, they take care of themselves.


saber-toothed tiger
Saber-toothed cats once inhabited North and South America.

© Rom-diz/Creative Commons – License

This creature lives in areas where its prey live. This includes all areas favored by plant-eating animals, such as forests, scrub and grasslands. It must have adopted the tactic of hiding near the watering point so that it would be unaware when prey came to drink.

Habitat range is very wide. It includes all of America from east to west and north to south. As the creature spread from North America to South America, it increased in size, forming the new species S. populator as a descendant of the much smaller S. gracilis.

Saber-toothed cats lived through the Ice Age and were used to very cold weather. At the end of the Ice Age, when temperatures rose sharply, it is thought that for a very short period of time, maybe even only about 100 years or so, the saber-toothed cat became extinct after 2.5 million years on the earth.

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The impact of climate change on their ability to survive is significant. When all the megafauna (large animals) disappeared, they still had plenty to eat, but the food sources changed.

Climate change has affected animals and brought about human migration. The combination of habitat destruction by temperature changes and human encroachment contributed to the animal's extinction.


Saber-toothed tiger on isolated background
Saber-toothed cats were both predators and scavengers.

©Valentyna Chukhlyebova/Shutterstock.com

Studies of the fossil record of saber-toothed cat teeth show that they mostly ate large animals with thick skin and muscles, and then left the bones for some other scavengers. If they ate a lot of bone, it would develop recognizable wear patterns on the teeth, which is not seen in saber-toothed cat fossils.

The saber-toothed cat was a very capable hunter and alone hunted many creatures such as bison, camels, horses, woolly mammoths, mastodons (huge hairy elephants that are now extinct) and giant sloths. There is also a theory that saber-toothed cats may also exhibit scavenger-like behavior, stealing antelope, capybaras, caribou, elk, bulls, wild boars, tapirs, and other small and medium-sized animals from other predators that The hunters have hunted them down.

Predators and Threats

Saber-toothed tiger skull. With long and white front teeth.
Saber-toothed cats are top predators and pose no natural threat to humans.

©Sasha Samardzija/Shutterstock.com

The only predators that hunt saber-toothed cats are humans. Many scientists believe that humans hunted the saber-toothed cat to extinction. When the saber-toothed cat died, the human expansion into the Americas took a dramatic turn. Increased temperatures caused by climate change at the end of the Ice Age may also have contributed to the extinction of saber-toothed cats.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

saber-toothed tiger
Saber-toothed cats can live an estimated 40 years in the wild.

© Ted/Flickr

Saber-toothed cats are likely seasonal polymorphs, but unknown. This means that females may come into heat more than once during the breeding season. Every spring, each fertile female impregnates the dominant male she has received. Males will fight each other for females. The gestation period for saber-toothed cat babies is eight months. A typical litter is three.

The lifespan of a saber-toothed tiger is very long, and it can reach forty years if it does not encounter humans.


extinct animal, saber-toothed tiger
Humans are likely to be responsible for the saber-toothed cat's demise.

©Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com

It's unclear exactly how many saber-toothed cats existed. Of course, from the thousands found in the La Brea Tar Pits, there must be thousands, perhaps millions. Their fossils are found all over North and South America. This suggests that large animal populations spread over vast territories over thousands of years.

Sadly, humans are partially or mostly responsible for the extinction of this creature. However, it is a natural enemy of human beings, and it must defend itself, otherwise it is likely to become the next meal of the saber-toothed tiger.

Saber-toothed tiger in the zoo

Saber Toothed Tiger Skeleton
Saber-toothed cat fossils can be seen in many natural history museums.

© The Marcus Chance/Flickr

The saber-toothed cat is an extinct mammal, so it cannot be found in any modern zoo. However, in an exhibit called "Ice Age Encounters" at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, there is a full-sized, lifelike animatronic (robot) puppet of a saber-toothed tiger. [Be sure to check if the museum is open before going, because the epidemic is temporarily closed. 】

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about the author

Corinna Seibel

My name is Corinna! In my profile photo you can see me with one of my two cats, Bisky! The other is Yma, a beautiful black Bombay cat. I'm 24 years old and live in Birmingham, Alabama with my partner, Anastasia, and enjoy making music, collecting records, and reading in my free time. Some of the other animals I own are a hamster, two chihuahuas, and many different kinds of fish.

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Saber Toothed Tiger FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How did the saber-toothed tiger become extinct?

Research conducted by the Australian Center for Ancient DNA has concluded that the extinction of the saber-toothed cat was likely caused by warming and hunting by humans at the end of the Ice Age. This is the most popular theory, but no one knows for sure.

Previously, it was wrongly believed that saber-toothed cats went extinct because their food supplies ran out. However, there is no evidence that they were forced to eat more bones, which would happen if the food supply was low. Eating more bones shows up in the fossil record as patterns on teeth. But that didn't happen. They varied their diet by eating smaller animals, but did not run out of food.

What is the scientific name of the saber-toothed tiger?

The scientific name of saber-toothed tiger is Saber-toothed tiger . There are three species of saber-toothed cats, namely S. gracilis, S. fatalis and S. populator .

Where do saber-toothed tigers live?

Saber-toothed tigers live in the Americas. Species of S. gracilis and S. fatalis live mainly in North America. S. populator species live in South America.

When did saber-toothed cats live?

The time range of saber-toothed cats is from the early Pleistocene about 2.5 million years ago to the early Holocene about 11,700 years ago (2.5 to 0.01 Ma). Related ancestral family members of other saber-toothed cats lived during the Eocene epoch 56 million years ago.

When did saber-toothed cats become extinct?

Saber-toothed cats became extinct about 11,700 years ago. After Ice Ace ended, most of the megafauna went extinct, including saber-toothed cats. This happened during the Quaternary extinction event. Megafauna are large animals such as mammoths, giant sloths, and saber-toothed cats. The prevailing theory is that climate change and human hunting contributed to their extinction.

Was the saber-toothed cat a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore?

The saber-toothed cat was a predatory mammal with huge canine teeth and was a carnivore (meat eater).

To which kingdom did the saber-toothed tiger belong?

Saber-toothed cats belong to the animal kingdom.

What phylum do saber-toothed cats belong to?

Saber-toothed cats belong to the phylum Chordate.

What type of saber-toothed cat is it?

Saber-toothed cats belong to the class Mammalia.

What family do saber-toothed cats belong to?

Saber-toothed cats belong to the cat family.

What order do saber-toothed cats belong to?

Saber-toothed cats belong to the order Carnivora.

What genus is the saber-toothed tiger?

Saber-toothed cats belong to the genus Saber-toothed cats.

What type of mulch do saber-toothed cats have?

Saber-toothed cats are covered with fur.

What is the main prey of saber-toothed cats?

Saber-toothed cats preyed on deer, bison and mammoths.

Who are the saber-toothed tiger's natural enemies?

The sabre-toothed cat's natural enemies include humans.

What are the salient features of saber-toothed cats?

Saber-toothed cats had huge, muscular bodies with long canine teeth.

How many babies did the saber-toothed tiger have?

The average number of babies for a saber-toothed cat is 3.

Interesting facts about saber-toothed cats?

The sabre-toothed cat's canine teeth were 7 inches long!

What is the lifespan of a saber-toothed tiger?

Saber-toothed cats live 20 to 40 years.

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.

  1. Live Science, available here: https://www.livescience.com/25848-starvation-extinction-sabertooth-cats.html
  2. Encyclopaedia Britannica, available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/saber-toothed-cat
  3. Berkeley, available here: https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/carnivora/sabretooth.html
  4. National Geographic, available here: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/sabertooth/
  5. San Diego Zoo Global Library, available here: https://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/extinctsaber-toothedcat/characteristics
  6. Kidzfeed, available here: https://kidzfeed.com/saber-tooth-cat-facts/
  7. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilodon
  8. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, available here: https://tarpits.org/tar-pits-programs/ice-age-encounters