The newly identified species of saber-toothed cat was so large it hunted rhinos in America

Using detailed fossil-comparison techniques, scientists were able to identify a new species of giant saber-toothed cat, Machairodus lahaishupup, which would have roamed the great outdoors of North America 5 to 9 million years ago.

One of the biggest cats ever discovered, Mr. hadishupup A body mass of around 274 kilograms (604 pounds) or more is estimated in this new study. He is a former relative of the well known Smilodon, the so-called saber-toothed tiger.

A total of seven Mr. hadishupup fossil specimens, including arms and teeth, were analyzed and compared to other species to identify the new felid, with the fossils collected from museum collections in Oregon, Idaho, Texas and from California.

1920 mochairodusorcuttArtist’s impression of the new saber-toothed cat. (Roger Witter)

“One of the big stories about all of this is that we ended up finding specimen after specimen of this giant cat in museums across western North America,” says paleobiologist John Orcutt of Gonzaga University. “They were clearly big cats.”

“What we didn’t have then, what we have now, is the test to see if the size and anatomy of these bones tells us anything – and it turns out, yes, they do.”

The age and size of the fossils gave researchers a good place to start. Then they used digital images and specialized software to find similarities between the relics – and differences with other cat species, which was just as important.

The marks on the specimens showed that they were from the same giant cat and that this cat was a species that had not been identified before. Additional evidence has come from the teeth, although the researchers admit that the details of how the early saber-toothed cats related to each other are a bit ‘hazy’.

The upper arms are crucial in these cats for killing their prey, and the largest upper arm or humerus fossil found in the study was about 1.4 times the size of the same bone in a modern lion. It gives you an idea of ​​the power and the power Mr. hadishupup would have been.

“We believe these were animals that routinely slaughtered bison-sized animals,” says paleontologist Jonathan Calede of Ohio State University. “It was by far the largest living cat at the time.”

Rhinos would have been abundant at the same time and could have been animals Mr. hadishupup attacked, alongside camels and sloths much larger than we are used to today.

Although the discoveries made so far on this new species do not include the iconic saber teeth themselves, it is significant that Mr. hadishupup was identified primarily from humerus bones, showing what is possible with the latest analysis software added to many hours of in-depth study.

It’s not easy to spot so many millions of years in the past, and researchers say a more detailed family tree of saber-toothed cats will be needed to determine exactly where this species fits. interesting evolutionary questions about these giant cats.

“We know there were giant cats in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and now we have our own giant saber-toothed cat in North America during that time as well,” Calede says.

“There is a very interesting pattern of independent evolution repeated across all continents of this giant body size in what remains a pretty hyper-specialized way of hunting, or we have this giant saber-toothed ancestral cat that s’ is scattered over all these continents. This is an interesting paleontological question. “

The research was published in the Journal of mammalian evolution.

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