Dental Damage Complicates the Fate of America’s Greatest Fossil Cats
There are no sabercats alive today. The clouded leopards of Asia come close, but even their long canines look dainty in comparison to the extended teeth of the last true sabertooths. And even though humans undoubtedly saw and lived alongside sabercats, no one recorded how the big cats fed or why they died out. The hyper-fanged felids have only been extinct for about 10,000 years, yet their biology and disappearance remain oft-debated mysteries. A new study of microscopic damage preserved on sabercat teeth only makes their lives and ultimate extinction all the more perplexing.
Both cats died out around the same time. Their demise has traditionally been tied to the disappearance of the mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, and other megamammals.