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Smilodon was the largest saber-toothed cat (or saber-toothed tiger). Smilodon first appeared about 1.6 million years ago and lived in North and South America. This ferocious cat went extinct 11,000 years ago. It lived during the last ice age on Earth, in which the Earth got much colder than it is now. Ice sheets and glaciers covered much of the land.

Anatomy: Smilodon was a fierce predator about 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) long and 3 feet (0.9 m) tall. It weighed about 440 lbs (200 kg). It was a bit smaller than a modern-day lion, but much heavier. Its 12-inch-long (30 cm) skull had 2 huge canine teeth. These saber-like teeth were serrated, oval in cross-section, and up to 7 inches (18 cm) long.

Smilodon had relatively short legs and a short, bobbed tail. Its front legs were especially powerful. Its body was adapted for springing onto prey, but it was not a very fast runner.

Diet: Smilodon was a carnivore, a meat-eater. This ferocious hunter may have eaten thick-skinned prey like mastodons (hairy, extinct elephants), horses, and bison. It probably ambushed its prey since its short legs limited its running speed. Its hunting strategy may have been to mortally wound its prey with its saber-like teeth, probably in the belly, and let the victim bleed to death.

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