Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Smilodon (Latin meaning: "Knife-Tooth") is an extinct genus of large cats that lived approximately 3 million-10,000 years ago in North and South America. They are the only known successors to Machairodus. Smilodon means knife tooth—an entirely appropriate name given its enormous fangs. The smilodon species are also known as sabertooth or sabre-toothed tigers (which is inaccurate-they weren't tigers) or sabertooth cats.
Three species of Smilodon are known to have existed:
- Smilodon fatalis, 1.6 million-10,000 years ago
- Smilodon gracilis, 2.5 million-500,000 years ago
- Smilodon populator, 1 million-10,000 years ago
Smilodon was approximately 350 kg and had a short tail, powerful legs and a large head. About the size of a lion, smilodon was extremely powerful and about twice as heavy. Its jaws could open 95 degrees. Its fangs were about 17 cm (7 inches) long.
Smilodons in pop culture
- The smilodon, or the sabertoothed tiger, is the power source of Trini Kwan and Aisha Campbell in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
- The saber-toothed tiger was also the inspiration for the logo of the Nashville Predators hockey team, after a sabre tooth of one was found beneath the site of Amsouth Center during an excavation.
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