Scimitar Cat

painting of Scimitar Cat

(Scimitar Cat) © Government of Yukon / Artist George "Rinaldino" Teichmann (1999)

Following its favorite food, Scimitar cats migrated across the Bering Land Bridge and spread throughout North America. This food was the mammoth. Since the scimitar cat was no bigger than today's lion, it hunted mammoth calves. Scimitar cats making their homes in the open tundra-steppe would watch mammoth herds from a distance. When a young mammoth strayed too far from its herd, the cat rushed forward in a blaze of speed. Take a look at its skull. Do you see the enlarged nasal openings? This adaptation allowed it to breathe in extra air, letting the scimitar cat run at speeds of 40 mph (64 kph)!

After reaching its prey, the cat used its four-inch-long serrated front canine teeth to inflict deadly wounds. It then retreated to avoid the dangerous tusks of adult mammoths coming to protect the calve. But the damage was already done. Eventually, the herd abandoned the dead juvenile and the scimitar cat went to eat its kill.

Last updated: April 15, 2015

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