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Did Anatomically Modern Humans Ever Encounter Saber-Toothed Cats?

The saber-toothed cat was a fearsome predator, standing 3.5 feet (1.1 m) tall and weighing in the neighborhood of 400 pounds (181 kg), about the size of a male African lion. But they didn’t chase down prey like a lion; they were primarily ambush experts, subduing prey with their forelimbs, holding them down, and then driving sharp sabers into helpless flesh with their powerful neck muscles. A 2017 analysis of a Homotherium jawbone has revealed that the prehistoric beasts probably encountered anatomically modern humans who had migrated into Europe, about 28,000 years ago -- more than 200,000 years later than originally thought.

Danger in prehistoric caves:

  • The dagger-like teeth of saber-toothed cats could grow up to seven inches (18 cm) long, and were used to subdue everything from enormous woolly mammoths to well-armored rhinos.
  • In the early 2000s, a Homotherium jawbone was trawled up from the North Sea, and radiocarbon dating suggested that the bone was far younger than expected. But some scientists doubted the result.
  • The DNA analysis performed by a researcher at the University of Potsdam in 2017 disputes the long-held belief that the prehistoric cat went extinct in Europe approximately 300,000 years ago.
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