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Extinct Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis) Fact Sheet, 2009   Tags: cat, extinct, fact sheet, fossil, mammal, san diego zoo, sdzg  

Extinct Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis)
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Extinct Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis) Fact Sheet, 2009

Saber-toothed Cat, Smilodon fatalis

Image Credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Lund 1842

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Smilodon

Species: Smilodon fatalis - extinct
Species: Smilodon gracilis - extinct
Species: Smilodon populator - extinct

Body Weight:160 - 280 kg (353 - 617 lb)

Body Length: 175 cm (68.9 in)

Tail Length: 35 cm (13.8 in)

Height at Shoulder: 100 cm (39.4 in)

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: North, Central, and South Americas

Habitat: Forests, brushy plains, margins of woodlands

Status: went extinct 13,000 years ago

Locomotion: ambush predator; not built for long-distance running

Activity Cycle: unknown

Social Groups: possible cooperative hunting, although small brain size argues for solitary life-style

Diet: large mammls such as bison, griant ground sloths, young mammoths and mastodons, horses, camels

Predators: no predators on healthy adults

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights
Longevity: unknown

Feature Facts

  • Smilodon had 7 inch-long canine teeth and could open its mouth an astounding 130 degrees, almost twice the gape of modern cats.
  • Smilodon is the State Fossil of California.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2009 San Diego Zoo Global.

How to cite: Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis) Fact Sheet, 2009. c2009. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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