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The Sabertooth Tiger


Sabertooth tigers lived in social groups.  Most scientists believe that they behaved much like modern day lions (Pantherus leo).  Lions live in prides, with many differently ranking females and one dominant male.  The alpha male protects the pride and the females hunt for the pride.
    I agree with this hypothesis because Smilodon fatalis were not very large animals, yet they brought down large prey such as wooly mammoths.  This would probably take cooperation among many group members.  This also indicates that sabertooth tigers were likely somewhat intelligent, like present day wolves.
     The methods these felines used for bringing down their prey, therefore, would also be similar to that of present day lions:  several pridemates chase the prey while others wait ahead to ambush.  In case of very large, solitary prey, many cats would attack at once, using their razor-sharp claws and powerful jaws to tear at the prey's hide.  In case of smaller, herd animals, the cats would each go after young, old, or else ailing animals.  If they attempted to take out the healthy adult animals, several sabertooths would attack at once.
    Most present day Carnivores breed about once per year, as Smilodon probably did.  If Smilodon fatalis were anything like present day species from the order Carnivora (canines, felines, ursadaes, mustelids), their gestation period would fall somewhere between 50 to 115 days.
    Smilodon probably had fairly large litters of offspring, which would be blind and deaf at birth, just like all kittens, pups, and cubs of present day.
     Paleontologists today argue about exactly how the sabertooth tiger's large canines were used.  The most likely theory is that the cats used them to inflict large stab or gash wounds on the stomach or neck of their prey.