The extinction of Saber-toothed cats is still a mystery

So, the saber-toothed cats went extinct about 12,000 years ago at the end of the late Pleistocene.


Well, the Pleistocene epoch is the geological epoch which lasted from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago blah blah blah…..Just think of it as the period when the large mammals like mammoths and saber-toothed cats were ruling the land.

Saber-Toothed Cat,  Author: daryl_mitchell
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  daryl_mitchell 

And how did the saber-toothed cats go extinct?

Because they all died near the end of the last Ice age, scientists thought that they might have run out of food due to the climate change. Starvation would have been the most plausible cause for their extinction.

It seems very reasonable doesn’t it ?

Wait just a second……

Researcher Larisa DeSantis said that the big cats tend to spent more time chewing the bones of their prey when there is a lack of food and we would be able to see the wear mark on their teeth.

Dinictis jaw

Picture: By Stickpen (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

And guess what? The saber-toothed cats did not have wear patterns on their teeth, according to the recent fossil analysis.

So no one really knows what caused the extinction of the giant cats.

What we do know is that human species started spreading around the world at that time.

Giant cats disappeared when humans appeared. Ummm…

Homo sapiens

Picture: By Véronique PAGNIER (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

DeSantis, Ungar, Blaine Schubert and Jessica Scott released their journal online in PLOS ONE on 26 Dec 2012.

Sources: DeSantis LRG, Schubert BW, Scott JR, Ungar PS (2012) Implications of Diet for the Extinction of Saber-Toothed Cats and American Lions. PLoS ONE 7(12): e52453. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052453

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