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Extinct Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis) Fact Sheet: Summary

Extinct Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis)

Archived Content

Disclaimer: Fact sheets on prehistoric (extinct) species contain archived content and are no longer being updated. At the time of publication, these pages summarized the best available science. However, some content may become outdated as scientists report new discoveries.

Extinct Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis) Fact Sheet

Extinct Saber-tooth Cat
Saber-toothed Cat, Smilodon fatalis
Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
Taxonomy Physical 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 & Status Behavior & 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 & Development Species 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 Wildlife Alliance.

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

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings.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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