Roaming the woodlands of the world over two million years ago was a dangerous predator named Machairodus which stands for "knife tooth" in Greek. With its long sharp
teeth this extinct feline animal closely resembled the famous Saber tooth Tiger. Below is a list of interesting kid-friendly facts about these extinct mammals
including what they looked like and what led to their extinction.
Machairodus List of Characteristics
- Because of the short, thick, muscular limbs of the Machairodus it did not possess characteristics of an animal meant for sustained high speeds. Therefore, scientists
believe it likely ambushed its prey by jumping out of trees, pouncing on them, and then moving in for the kill by puncturing the animal's jugular vein with its long
- Distinguishing characteristics of this prehistoric animal include relatively short legs, a long tail, and a very large skull.
- The long, sharp upper canines of the Machairodus had serrated edges which were ideal for cutting through tough meat such as that of rhinos and elephants which it would
often prey on.
- As in other male cats, it is believed that the male Machairodus probably had a beard or mane so that females would notice them.
- The Machairodus is believed to be the largest cat within its species and one of the largest cats of all time. It was about 6.5 feet (2 meters) long and is believed to
have weighed anywhere from 771 - 1036 pounds (350-470 kg). This is approximately the size of a horse.
- Since this mammal died out long before the time when humans appeared there is no way to determine for sure exactly what its markings looked like or where on the body
markings may have appeared. Scientist believe, since it was most likely an ambush predator, it probably had markings which served as camouflage such as stripes or
Machairodus Interesting Facts
- Scientific facts and information suggest that one reason this species may have died out could be due to its reliance on large prey which became extinct.
- The Machairodus lived throughout the woodlands of North America, Europe, Africa and Asia but the majority of fossils of this animal have been found in Chad, Africa.
- This animal roamed the earth for approximately 11.5 million years before going extinct during the Miocene period.
- Of the many species of Machairodus, the Machairodus Kabir was the largest.
- Most of what we know about these animals comes from fossil fragments found in Asia and Europe. Very well preserved skulls of this species have been uncovered in China.
- The males of this species were always larger than the females.
- There are two theories as to how the Machairodus hunted. They may have hunted in large groups in order to use teamwork to take down large prey. They also may have
been able to ambush unsuspecting prey better in a group. However, large groups meant less food for each member of the group and more time spent hunting.