While today’s cats are rather large, impressive animals, they are actually quite small in comparison to many other animals and are not even the largest of cats ever to have lived on earth. During the last Ice Age, there were various incredible creatures walking the earth and this included some very large cats. Some of these cats were not only very large, but were also noted for having extraordinarily large incisors. Their fearsome appearance really caught the imagination, with Smilodon being the most famous of all.
You will likely know Smilodon better as the saber-toothed tiger, recognizable it by its elongated fangs. This powerful cat was a fearsome predator during the Ice Age period, and the largest of all was a lot bigger than today’s lions and tigers. Unfortunately for them, the world around them started changing a lot when the Ice Age came to an end. Unable to adapt, they struggled for survival, and became extinct.
We have been fortunate to be able to learn a lot about these fascinating animals and can bring you many interesting facts about them.
Smilodon Fact #10: Not a Tiger
Smilodon goes by another name, and is more commonly known as ‘the saber-toothed tiger’. It was so called because it was a species of large cat, but it was not actually a species of tiger. While it is a member of the felid family, to which tigers also belong, the two are actually quite distant relatives within the family. The saber-toothed tiger is also not closely related to any cat species that is alive today, although some modern cats would have co-existed with the saber-toothed tiger.
There were in fact three species of saber-toothed tiger, Smilodon gracilis, Smilodon populator and Smilodon fatalis. The smallest was Smilodon gracilis which was about the size of a jaguar, while the largest, Smilodon populator, may have been the largest felid ever to have walked the earth. They all shared the planet with another ancient giant cat species, the American lion, which was considerably larger than today’s African lion.