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Machairodus

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machairodus

Machairodus (Heinrich Harder)

Name:

Machairodus (Greek for "knife tooth"); pronounced mah-CARE-oh-duss

Habitat:

Woodlands of North America, Africa and Eurasia

Historical Epoch:

Late Miocene-Pleistocene (10 million to 2 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 5 feet long and a few hundred pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Thick limbs; large canines

 

About Machairodus:

You can tell a lot about a prehistoric cat by the shape of its limbs. Clearly, the squat, muscular fore and hind legs of Machairodus weren't suited for high-speed chases, leading paleontologists to infer that this saber-toothed cat leaped on its prey suddenly from high trees, wrestled it to the ground, punctured its jugular with its large, sharp canines, then withdrew to a safe distance while its unfortunate victim bled to death. Machairodus is represented in the fossil record by numerous individual species, which varied widely in size and probably fur pattern (stripes, spots, etc.).

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