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Saber-Toothed Tiger In Layman's Terms

Saber-Toothed Tiger


A Saber-Toothed Tiger, also known as a Smilodon, was a large predator that lived during the Pleistocene Era, which ended around 11,700 years ago. It had very long, sharp teeth in its upper jaw, which is how it got its name "saber-toothed." Their teeth were as long as 7 inches. They were primarily carnivores, eating large mammals such as mammoths and mastodons.

How Big Was The Saber-Toothed Tiger?

The Saber-Toothed Tiger stood about 3-4 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed around 400-600 pounds. It is believed that the Saber-Toothed Tiger went extinct due to a combination of factors, including climate change (Ice Age) and the decline of large mammal populations that they relied on for food. Human hunting may also have played a role in their extinction.

SabertoothSaber-Toothed Tiger | Image Credit: Natural History Museum

Saber-Toothed Tiger Characteristics

The below information are based on speculations of the Saber-Toothed Tiger based on the animal's anatomy.


Like modern-day tigers, the saber-toothed tiger had a thick fur coat that likely provided insulation against the cold. The fur would have helped to trap warm air close to the tiger's body, keeping it warm and helping to regulate its body temperature. Additionally, the fur may have provided camouflage, helping the tiger to blend into its environment and avoid predators or prey. However, we can't know for certain exactly how the fur of the saber-toothed tiger functioned, as the species is extinct and we can only make an educated-guess.


The exact speed of the saber-toothed tiger is not known but based on its anatomy and estimated body mass scientists believe that it could have run at speeds of up to 30-40 miles per hour (48-64 km/h). It is believed that the Saber-Toothed tiger was not as fast as modern-day big cats, such as lions or cheetahs. Its relatively short and stocky legs suggest that it may have been better adapted to ambush-style hunting than to chasing prey over long distances.


The Saber-Toothed Tiger had eyes positioned towards the front of its head, which is a characteristic of predators that rely on depth perception and accurate targeting of prey. This suggests that the saber-toothed tiger had good visual acuity and depth perception, which would have helped it to accurately judge distances and accurately strike its prey.

It's also possible that the Saber-Toothed Tiger had adaptations that allowed it to see in low light conditions, such as a larger pupil or a higher density of light-sensing cells in its retina. This would have allowed the tiger to hunt effectively during dawn or dusk, when light levels are low.

Saber-Toothed Tiger Family

Felidae Family

The Saber-Toothed Tiger was part of a group of prehistoric mammals called the Machairodonts, which were apex predators that existed for over 25 million years. The Saber-Toothed was part of the Felidae family, which includes modern cats such as lions, tigers, and leopards. Several species of the Saber-Toothed Tiger existed, including Smilodon Populator, Smilodon Fatalis, and Smilodon Gracilis. Smilodon Populator was the largest Saber-Toothed Tiger weighing up to 1,100 pounds.

Despite their extinction, the Saber-Toothed Tiger remains one of the most iconic and well-known prehistoric mammals and continues to be a topic of interest among scientists and the general public.

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