Scientists have identified a giant saber-toothed cat – Machairodus lahayishupup humerus. She lived in North America from 5 to 9 million years ago and weighed about 400 kg.
The researchers completed a comparison of seven unclassified fossil specimens with previously identified bones from around the world to describe a new species of animal, the giant saber-toothed cat, Machairodus lahayishupup humerus. The ulnar part of the humerus helped to establish the size of the specimen. She points to the massive forearms that allowed the cat to subdue its prey.
Scientists calculated the size of the new species by comparing the humerus and body weight of modern big cats. Suggestions for cat prey are based on the size of the species and animals known to have lived in the region at the time – rhinos, giant camels and giant ground sloths.
Scientists estimate that the recently discovered another giant cat weighed an average of about 400 kg and could kill prey weighing up to 3000 kg.
“We believe they regularly killed animals the size of a bison,” said study co-author Jonathan Kalede, associate professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Biology of Organisms at Ohio State University. “It was the largest cat that ever existed.”
John Orcutt, assistant professor of biology at Gonzaga University, USA, found a large sample of a shoulder bone in the collection of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. He was labeled as a “sample cat”. The scientist spent many years trying to figure out what kind of cat it could be. The researchers eventually found specimen after specimen of this giant cat in museums in western North America.
A specimen from Oregon has been excavated in the traditional lands of the Cayus, a tribe that joined the Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes in the confederal tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Out of respect for the indigenous peoples of America, Kalede and Orcatt, in collaboration with the Tamastslikt Institute of Culture, named the new species Machairodus lahayishupup. Machairodus is a genus of large saber-toothed cats native to Africa, Eurasia and North America. In the Caius language, Laháyis Húpup means “ancient wild cat”.
The largest of the seven fossils available for analysis, Machairodus lahayishupup humerus, was over 46 cm long and 4 cm in diameter. For comparison, in the average modern adult male, the humerus of a lion is about 33 cm in length.
The new species is an ancient relative of Smilodon. Representatives of the extinct genus of saber-toothed cats lived from 2.5 million to 10 thousand years ago in the Americas. Probably descended from megantereon. By the way, the well-known name “saber-toothed tiger” is actually incorrect.