Smilodon

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Smilodon
Conservation status: Fossil

Saber Tooth Tiger, image provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Felidae
Subfamily:Machairodontinae
Genus:Smilodon
Species

Smilodon californicus
Smilodon fatalis
Smilodon gracilis
Smilodon populator

Smilodon (Greek meaning: "Knife-Tooth") is an extinct genus of large saber-toothed cats that are belived to have lived between approximately 3 million to 10,000 years ago in North and South America. They are the only known successors to Machairodus. Smilodon means knife tooth, an entirely appropriate name given its enormous fangs. The smilodon species are also known as sabertooth or sabre-toothed tigers (which is inaccurate, as they were not tigers) or sabertooth cats.

As many as five species of Smilodon are known to have existed:

Smilodon was approximately 350 kg and had a short tail, powerful legs and a large head. About the size of a lion, smilodon was extremely powerful and about twice as heavy. Its jaws could open 95 degrees. Its fangs were about 17 cm (7 inches) long.

Many Smilodon fossils have been unearthed at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, which is why it is the prehistoric cat researchers know the most about.

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