The American Scimitar Cat

The American Scimitar Cat (Homotherium serum) is the lesser known of the two ‘sabre-toothed’ cats of ice age North America. This extinct cat was a formidable hunter and evidence suggests it was the major predator of mammoths during its time.

The American Scimitar Cat – Statistics

Height: 1.1m (3.5ft) at the shoulder, Weight: 150-250 kg (330-550lb)

The American Scimitar Cat – Physical Description

Scimitar cats were about the size of a modern lion but had longer, more slender limbs. Their most distinctive feature was their sabre-like teeth a feature that they shared with their American cousins, sabre-toothed cats. Several key features distinguish scimitar cats from sabre-tooths. The canine teeth of scimitar cats were shorter and more slender than those of the sabre-tooth and were finely serrated, making them powerful slicing tools. The scimitar cat had a somewhat unusual build with comparatively long front legs, a sloping back and shorter hind legs.

The American Scimitar Cat – Distribution

Scimitar cats were widespread in North America, from the far north in Alaska to the south in Texas.

The American Scimitar Cat – Habitat

Found in various habitats from the open steppe tundra of the north to the wooded grasslands and scrub of the south.

The American Scimitar Cat – Diet

Scimitars were carnivores that hunted large mammals. African species of the Scimitar Cat also seem to have hunted early Pleistocene species of Deinotherium, likely targeting the adolescents or calves in a herd. Due to its saber-teeth, the attack of such thick-skinned prey would have been relatively easier and much quicker a kill, as opposed to a similar hunt on modern elephants by lions, which take significantly longer than machairodonts to bring down.

The American Scimitar Cat – Behavior

There is some remarkable evidence that scimitar cats were major predators of mammoths and mastodons. In Friesenhahn Cave in Texas the remains of more than 30 individuals, including cubs, have been found in association with the remains of some 300-400 juvenile mammoths.

The American Scimitar Cat – Conservation status

It first became extinct in Africa some 1.5 million years ago. In Eurasia it survived until about 30,000 years ago. In South America it is only known from a few remains in the northern region (Venezuela), from the mid-Pleistocene. The most recent European remains of Homotherium date to 28,000 years BP

Notes

The American scimitar cat was one of several ‘sabre-tooth’ cats belonging to the genus Homotherium which evolved around 5 million years ago. Different species of Homotherium were found in North America, Eurasia and Africa.

 

Closest relative to The American Scimitar Cat

Modern cats.

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