Smilodon, also known as the sabre-toothed cat (not tiger!), is one of the largest cats to have curled-up on Earth. This prehistoric feline predator is famed for its large fang-like teeth, which could grow up to 30 centimetres (12 inches).
How big was it?
It could reach nearly 3 metres (10 feet) in length and stood more than five feet at the shoulder. It weighed as much as half a ton meaning this was one kitty you wouldn’t want sitting on your lap.
What did it eat?
Like big cats today, this fierce feline would devour just about any form of meat available. Herbivores these were not. Bison and horses were on the menu, while woolly mammoths and some dinosaurs may have also been fair game.
How did it hunt?
This cat was a true all-rounder when it came to hunting. It was capable of chasing its prey down but also as likely to strike from an ambush. It also adopted a scavenger mentality, snacking on large prey caught in tar pits. It may also have hunted in packs, similar to hyenas today. When it came to food, this predator didn’t care how it got it.
When was it around?
Smildon can be dated as far back as half a million years ago and as recently as 10,000 years ago.
Those big, scary-looking canines were actually a bit of a hindrance. They weren’t very strong nor were they very good for slashing, so the sabre-tooth cat would have to use them for stabbing. To compensate for such large canines, this feline could open its mouths 120 degrees, double that of a modern-day lion, making this one big mouth you wouldn’t want to put your head in.