This Saber-Toothed Cat Mingled With Modern Humans
A surprisingly young fossil jaw found in Europe is helping scientists better climb the sabertooth family tree.
When modern humans first wandered into Europe some 50,000 years ago, this snaggle-toothed cat was probably there to greet them.
Painstaking genetic analysis of a jawbone dredged up from the bottom of the North Sea has now confirmed the theory that the so-called scimitar cat Homotherium latidens lived in Europe much longer than previously believed.
Until recently, the earliest fossil of a Homotherium in the region dated to about 300,000 years ago, and many paleontologists had assumed that’s when the large cat went locally extinct. (Find out how saber-toothed cats killed even though they had weak bites.)
But in 2002, radiocarbon dating of the North Sea jawbone suggested that the species was still prowling around Europe as early as 28,000