Sabor Tooth Cat (Smilodon californicus)
The most lethal cat-like killing machine ever to stalk the earth was the saber-tooth cat Smilodon. This immense fanged beast existed for about 35 million years. It perished only 12,000 years ago when the large, slow-moving mammals it preyed upon died out as the Ice Age came to an end.
The saber-toothed cat was about the size of an African lion, tipping the scales at around 700 pounds. Fundamental differences between it and the lion are evidenced in the skull and dentition, with a relatively small brain for its massive bulk, Smilodon is presumed to have been a more vicious carnivore than the modern cats.
The skull was modified for the dagger-like canine teeth in the upper jaw, so much so, that the mouth could open 90 degrees to clear the sabers for their plunging action.
It is for these long, narrow, curved fangs termed dirktooths, that Smilodon (saber-tooth) is named. The cutting edge of the dirktooth was serrated like a steak knife and ran along the front and back of the crown.
More on the saber-tooth cat can be found in the museum....