Cats have come a long way in their evolution. Today we have many species of felines that range from the lovable house cats we enjoy as pets to the larger wildcats that still roam about free in forests, jungles, and deserts. What were the ancestors of modern-day cats like? According to ZME Science, North America was home to a species called Mchairodus lahayishupup, sometime between 5 to 9 million years. The fossil remains of these giant cats were found by archaeologists and assembled for study. Can you imagine a cat that was large enough to take down a rhinoceros?
The bones of these large cats are classified in the Machairodus genus and based on the size of the bones, it is believed that these massive felines weighed around 900 pounds. they were predatory and hunted large game. They were of the saber-tooth family with thin and flat canine teeth that had the appearance and function of a knife blade. While most of us have heard about saber-tooth cats from the days of the dinosaurs, the one distinguishing factor that sets these cats apart from other species is their tremendous size. The bones of this animal were compared to other similar fossils. Researchers wanted to understand what makes this find so different. When compared, professors from Gonzaga University and The Ohio State University referred to other fossil species, however, it was a labor-intensive project that called for assumptions to be made based on incomplete fossils. Bits and pieces were found which made it necessary to use the forearm models of similar species to create a model based upon the weight and size of modern cats such as lions, tigers, pumas, and other big cats to arrive at a reasonable estimation of what this cat might have looked like.
The elbow of cats is a powerful marker
Researchers have learned that the elbow shape of modern big cats is one of the best ways to measure the size of a cat and it can help to distinguish one species from another. Fossil records show that the latest find shows that this cat is different than any other known species found. It is a discovery that sheds light on the massive size of what may have been the largest saber-tooth fossils ever found. This is a new species that is a relative of known saber-tooths, and likely to be a cousin species to the Smilodon which is believed to have gone extinct around 10,000 years ago. The newly identified species roamed the North American wilderness as long as 9 million years ago and were far bigger than the estimated size of other cats. Researchers use specialized software to create digitized models based on the models of each elbow fossil to arrive at their conclusions.
These big cats roamed the Pacific Northwest
According to OSU, the humerus bone of this newly identified species was excavated from a dig in the North-central part of Oregon State. It was found by John Orcutt and the bone is now displayed at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. This is exciting news that reveals more about the animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago. It gives us a look into the history of the earth and the evolution of modern felines.
Gathering information piece by piece
More evidence of the newly discovered species has been identified from digs throughout the western part of North America. Although the forearm is the only fossil recovered from the Oregon site, researchers were able to track down other specimens that are believed to come from this new species of cat from a variety of other museums scattered throughout the western part of North America. All of the finds were compared with data input into the models, however, the leg bone provides the best means of estimating the size and inferring the predatory habits and capacity of these giant cats.
The oldest known feline ancestors
According to Good News Networks, this exciting new find predates the fossils of the smilodon which was one of the oldest known species of big cats. This is breaking news on the archaeological and paleontological front. It’s a recent find that has opened up yet more evidence that there were once cats roaming the earth that was big enough to take down a rhino or bison with ease. It tells us that there were giant animals present in the places we occupy that hunted anything that moved. Although much of the information we’re receiving is based upon speculation, the methods used by researchers have been tested with modern-day species and found to be effective in their accuracy for predicting size and capacity.
The world was a very different place 5 million years ago. The beloved pets we now enjoy are a far cry from the rhino hunting cats that once roamed the earth. The Pacific Northwest has yielded fossil evidence of a massive cat that is unlike any of the other fossils recovered to date. Some of the evidence suggests that it may be a cousin to the saber-tooth that went extinct about 10,000 years ago, but this is little more than an educated guess. The leg bone excavated in Oregon state tells us one thing for certain. This is an ancient cat species from millions of years ago that is now the largest known feline to ever exist in the area, and perhaps in the world. There are no other cat fossils that match the size of this leg bone and although it is the only piece of the puzzle researchers have for analysis, it is enough to allow them to give us a likely description of the massive beast. This is one of the most exciting finds of our time. We’re learning that the world may have been much different than we ever imagined.