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Newly Discovered Species of Saber-Toothed Cat Was So Big It Hunted Rhinos in America

Artist’s impression of the new saber-toothed cat / Roger Witter

The last 10 to 15 million years have given us some true mega-mammals, such as mammoths, bears, cats, rhinos, and deer, that were much larger than their modern relatives.

Now paleontologists have described a new species of saber-toothed cat that found the ancient cat’s humerus bone among North American museum collections.

Turns out there isn’t one, but perhaps several other saber-toothed feline genetic branches, and Machairodus lahaishupup It would have been one of the largest cats to ever roam the Earth.

A analysis of the humerus, which is part of the foreleg, was shown to be 1.4 times larger than the same bone found in an adult male lion. The scientists then calculated the relationship between body mass and humerus size in different species of modern cats to estimate how large M. hadishupup was.

Depending on the species, smilodon, aka ‘the’ saber-toothed cat, could weigh anywhere 120 to 600 lbs. The newly identified cat, by contrast, could weigh up to 900 pounds.

Scientists have dated the bones to place the animal’s time on Earth to between 5 and 9 million years ago, when it would have roamed the North American prairie devouring the largest game, probably the bison, but also rhinoceros forms. and even the famous ground sloth, a colossus much larger than any species of sloth we recognize today.

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“We think these were animals that routinely knocked down bison-sized animals,” said paleontologist Jonathan Calede of Ohio State University. “This was by far the largest cat alive at the time.”

Another paleontologist notes How surprising it was that all these specimens were gathering dust in the museums of western North America. They have forearm bones and some small teeth, but without the cranial fragments or the famous saber-shaped teeth themselves, it would be difficult to demonstrate without a doubt just how big they really were and how big their prey species were.

Hot he told his university press which is “an interesting paleontological question.”

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“It is known that there were giant cats in Europe, Asia and Africa, and now we also have our own giant saber-toothed cat in North America during this period,” he said.

“There is a very interesting pattern of independent repeated evolution on each continent of this giant body size in what is still a fairly hyperspecialized form of hunting, or we have this ancient saber-toothed giant cat that has spread across all those continents.”

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