Phylogony of the Cat species
|The table below
illustrates the links between today's felid species and
there Neofelid and Palaeofelid ancestors.
There is a common misconception the the fabled 'Sabre-toothed Tiger' of pre-historic times was a direct ancestor of the modern tiger, however it is now believed that the various forms of sabre-tooth, evolved away from a distant common ancestor and became extinct far before the emergence of the modern-day felid ancestors.
|Possibly the best known
of the sabre-tooths was the Smilodon. The smilodon was
probably about the size of an average lion but had a
large head in proportion to its body size. Because of the
relatively short tail it is believed that the smilodon
did not chase its prey at high speed but rather gave
chase over short distances, finally throwing itself at
its victim and knocking it over.
Because of the extreme length of the canines it is unlikely that the smilodon despatched its victim with the neck or throat bite - it is more likely that to save the canines from possible damage, soft fleshy areas were attacked, inflicting many stabbing wounds which would have resulted in its victim bleeding to death.
There is evidence to suggest that the smilodon was a social animal, hunting in groups in a similar manner to the lion of today.
© 1997 Andrew Garman