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Artist's rendering of Homotherium serum (scimitar-toothed cat)

Homotherium serum
Scimitar-toothed Cat

Skull
TMM 933-3582
Friesenhahn Cave, Pleistocene
Bexar County, Texas


Homotherium serum, the scimitar-toothed cat, ranged throughout Texas during the Pleistocene.  Homotherium was a member of the felid lineage, which includes all extant and extinct cats (everything from lions to housecats) as well as the extinct saber-toothed cats.  Homotherium was about the size of a modern lion, but it had a lighter build with long forelimbs and relatively shorter hindlimbs.  These proportions indicate that Homotherium was capable of running after prey as well as leaping upon them. 

The skull of Homotherium is characterized by its flattened and serrated upper canines and wide nasal opening.  The wide nasal opening has been compared to that of a cheetah, and is thought to have allowed for maximum air intake, which is important for running after prey.  The canines of Homotherium are not as elongate as those of the saber-toothed cat Smilodon, but were nevertheless effective weapons for killing prey. 

The prey of choice were juvenile mammoths, as evidenced by more than 300 mammoth deciduous (“milk”) teeth found in Friesenhahn Cave.  There is no doubt that the juvenile mammoths were killed and dragged into the cave by Homotherium, for in addition to the skull cast for the Dino Pit, skeletal remains representing 19 adult and 13 juvenile Homotherium have been collected from Friesenhahn Cave, indicating that the cave was used as a den for quite some time. 

A field crew, including Glen L. Evans and Grayson E. Meade, from the Texas Memorial Museum found the original specimen during excavation of Friesenhahn Cave in the summer of 1949.  Its age is estimated to be about 20,000 years old.  This skull is at the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory while complete Homotherium skeletons (an adult and two kittens) are on display at the Texas Memorial Museum, the exhibit hall of the Texas Memorial Museum. 

 

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