FC: Smilodon By Andrew Banister
1: The smildon was a giant prehistoric cat that roamed North America. The word smilodon means "chisel tooth" in Greek. You can see how this massive creature got it's name(see picture to the left.) It is thought to be more of a leopard the a tiger in it's legendary name., the "saber-tooth tiger." There is 3 recognized species of smilodon: smilodon gracilis, smilodon fatalis, and smilodon populator. More species have been described, but only these species have been confurmed
2: Smilodon was not a picky eater. As top predator, it was powerful enough to kill and eat any herbivore on the landscape. This includes deer, horses, ground sloths, pigs, bison, and the occasional mammoth calf. It probably used it's size and weight to take down an animal, and it used it's teeth to kill with a fatal bite to the neck.
3: Smilodon was not the only predator on the North American landscape at the time. One was Hyenadon. It was a massive creature with no living relatives. The dire wolf was a giant wolf that lived at the time of the smilodon. The terror bird was huge bird that came to North America for South America during the Great American Interchange. The giant bear in the top right corner is a short faced bear, or a cave bear. These animals could take down a smilodon, but it would sure put up a fight.
4: The smilodon one of the largest cats of all time. An adult probably weighed about 120 to 1,100 pounds. It was built more like a bear than a cat. It had short legs for a cat, and was probably not a very fast runner. It was about 3 feet tall 4-5 feet long. It probably used it's size to tackle prey more like a wrestler than a swordsman. It would not use it's teeth to take down an animal because there was a very high risk of breaking them(see page 5) | Size
5: The smilodon's teeth were relatively the size of a modern tigers, except their large canines. These giant saber-like-teeth were very brittle and fragile. This predator probably used it's size and strength to over power and tackle prey and sank it's long canines in to the animals neck, therefor, crushing the prey wind pipe. Dispite it's size, strength, and speed, the smilodon's bite is actually weaker than other cats it's sizes. This might be because it's teeth killed prey almost instantly and didn't need much power to sink it's teeth into prey.
6: The La Brea Tar Pits | The La Brea Tar Pits are a great fossil record of many ancient creatures, including smilodon. Asphalt bubbles up from deep in the earth, and in the summer heat, it melts into a sticky black goo. when prey, like bison or mammoth,wandered into the pits. Their calls of distress probably attracted predators wanting a free meal. When predators leaped on the trapped animal,they sunk in the tar. The La Brea Tar Pits are one of the biggest examples of this. Many rare animals were found in the hundreds.
7: It is very hard to tell if the smilodon was a social animal or a solitary animal. There are some clues that tell us. In the La Brea tar pits (see page 6) many skeletons were found in the same place around the same prey animal. This hints that they lived in packs, like lions. Another hint is that skeletons were found with injuries and diseases that would have crippled the animal, and the animal lived several more years. this could only happen if another smilodon hunted for it. | Social Life
8: Species | Smilodon Faltalis | Smilodon Populator | Smilodon Gracilis
9: Extinction | The smilodon was a very powerful predator when it was alive, but what killed this killer. One of the factors might have been that there was a small change in the climate. All the large herbivores. that it feasted on vanished. The saber-toothed cats may have not been able to feed on smaller prey, so it eventually died out.
11: Smilodon Hunting | Skeletal Form