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The Saber Tooth Tiger, Smilodon, refers to the extinct predatory mammal known for its distinctive pair of long, razor sharp canine teeth, in the family Felidae. One of the most iconic prehistoric animals, the Saber Tooth Tiger existed during the last ice age – 12,000 years ago.
See the fact file below for more information on the Saber Tooth Tiger or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Saber Tooth Tiger worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Smilodon is the most well known under its common name, “saber tooth tiger.” However, this is incorrect and misleading since they are distant relatives of modern tigers and cats.
- Three species of Smilodon are known to have existed: Smilodon gracilis, Smilodon fatalis, and Smilodon populator.
- Big teeth, big mouth. A saber tooth tiger is known for its distinctive pair of long canines that could grow up to eight (8) inches, which permitted it to inflict deep stabbing wounds. Its jaw was massive and could open over 120 degrees, twice that of a modern big cat. This was helpful since these long canines required a greater gap for it to clamp down on prey. Their lower canines were smaller and their molars were as smooth as modern day shearing blades.
- Bobtail. Compared to modern large cats, saber tooth tigers had a shorter tail which suggests it was an ambush predator.
- Longer calcaneus. Smilodons are heavy cats, but the mechanical advantage of a longer calcaneus counteracted its weight; thus, increasing its jumping ability.
- Weak bite force. The zygomatic arches were less developed compared to other large cat species. Smaller arches limited the size of the temporalis muscle and the bite force.
- Sturdy skeleton. It had a thick cortical bone, able to withstand heavier loads. The distal limb bones of this prehistoric mammals were also decreased in length compared to other cats.
- Reduced lumbar region. This feature limited its mobility compared to other big cats, but Smilodons had more power to bring down prey.
- Smilodon populator was the largest known felid to have existed, weighing 220 to 400 kg. Smilodon fatalis weighed 160 to 280 kg, while the Smilodon gracilis, the smallest of the three, was only 55 to 100 kg.
- Saber tooth tigers were carnivorous. They hunted large herbivores including bisons, camels, horses, young mammoths, mastodons (extinct hairy elephants), and ground sloths. They also scavenged on caribou, peccaries, elks, tapirs, prong oxen, and capybaras killed by other predators.
- They likely avoided biting bones due to their fragile canines. Instead, they wrestled with and stabbed their prey with their saber teeth and waited until it died.
- Smilodons lived in North and South America during the Pleistocene Epoch. They could be found in regions where plant-eating animals lived, such as pine forests, grasslands, and shrubby areas.
- The S. fatalis lived in North America, S. gracilis were found in America during the period of early to middle Pleistocene, and the S. popular in the eastern part of South America.
BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION
- Just like modern cats, saber tooth tigers hunted in packs to ensure they had food for those ill, old, or injured. However, they had different killing techniques. Since they were not as strong as modern lions, they used to wrestle large prey to the ground using their claws and forelimbs before biting them with their sharp canines.
- They were able to roar loudly due to the presence of the hyoid bone in their mouth.
- Smilodons mostly mated during spring and their pregnancy period was around eight (8 ) months.
- They went into extinction during the last ice age, which was around 12,000 years ago. There are two theories explaining why they went extinct: (1) lack of prey, and (2) humans hunting them, damaging their habitat, and climate change.
- Thousands of Smilodon fatalis fossils were recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits in downtown Los Angeles, California. Apparently, they got stuck in the tar as they attempted to prey on other animals that were also trapped.
Saber Tooth Tiger Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Saber Tooth Tiger across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Saber Tooth Tiger worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Saber Tooth Tiger, Smilodon, which refers to the extinct predatory mammal known for its distinctive pair of long, razor sharp canine teeth, in the family Felidae. One of the most iconic prehistoric animals, the Saber Tooth Tiger existed during the last ice age – 12,000 years ago.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Saber Tooth Tiger Facts
- All About Saber Tooth
- Saber Tooth Anatomy
- Saber Tooth Diet
- Saber Tooth Species
- Sketch a Saber Tooth
- Saber Tooth or False
- Prehistoric Cats
- Prehistoric Cats 2.0
- Arrange the Fossil
- A Saber Tooth Tale
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Link will appear as Saber Tooth Tiger Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 23, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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