SABER-TOOTHED CAT (Smilodon californicus)

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“Saber-Toothed Cat,” Mosaic by Patti Jacquemain

     For many years, I have been fascinated with the large mammals that lived during the Ice Age or Pleistocene-epoch, which began two million years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago.

We know about many species of plants and animals that lived in Southern California because of the La Brea Tar Pits (100 miles South of Santa Barbara) where so many creatures were caught and got stuck in the tar. The George C. Page Museum of La Brae (well worth visiting) has one of the world’s largest deposits of Ice Age fossils – 565 different species. It amazes me to think that many of those large scary creatures that were trapped in the tar could have lived on this very soil around Santa Barbara. Some of the mammals that roamed the area were the large Short-Faced Bear, Wolves, Lions, Mammoths, and the Saber-Toothed Cat, none of which are here today.

The Saber-Toothed Cat was one of the most charismatic, yet terrifying, mammals of the Ice Age. There must have been quite a few of them, for many of their fossils were found at La Brae. The Saber-Toothed Cat was stealthy and would ambush its prey, slashing it with its large upper canine teeth or “sabers.” It was large, mean and has been designated as the State Fossil of the state of California.

I was an astounding creature!

And my teeth were my best feature.

 

A much feared predator, that was me,

As incredible as could be.

 

I was an awesome saber-toothed cat,

But now I’m extinct, so that’s that!

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