Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 3, 2017

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S. fatalis skeleton at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Smilodon is an extinct genus of saber-toothed cats that lived in the Americas between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch. It was named in 1842 and identified by fossils from Brazil. The largest collection of its fossils has come from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California. The species S. gracilis and S. fatalis lived mostly in North America. A third species, the South American S. populator (meaning destroyer), was perhaps the largest known member of the family of cats, at 220 to 400 kg (490 to 880 lb) and 120 cm (47 in) in height. Overall, saber-toothed tigers were stronger than any modern cat, with well-developed forelimbs, big jaws, and long, slender upper canines, adapted for precision killing. In North America, they hunted large herbivores such as bison and camels, pinning their prey before biting it. They probably lived in habitats that provided cover for ambushing prey, such as forests and shrubland. They died out at the same time that most North and South American megafauna disappeared, during a period of climate change about 10,000 years ago. (Full article...)

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