Wyoming size ft m

This leopard-sized cat was rather long-bodied and short-legged compared with a modern cat. It first appeared in Europe toward the very end of the Eocene, some 40 million years ago, and spread eastwards across the Bering land bridge into North America during the Oligocene.

Eusmilus was typical of the group of false sabertooth felids. The pair of upper canine teeth were enlarged into well-developed, stabbing "sabers." The lower canines were insignificant, and many of the other teeth had been lost. Eusmilus had only 26 teeth in its jaws, compared with the maximum of 44 found in some carnivores.

The jaw hinge was modified to open to an angle of 90°, which allowed the great saber teeth to do their work. The lower jaw had bony guards that lay along the length of the sabers, protecting them from damage when the mouth was closed. In this it resembled the marsupial sabertooth Thylacosmilus (see pp. 202, 204), although these mammals were not related. Their similarity is an example of convergent evolution (see p. 16).

Eusmilus and other false sabertooth cats inhabited the same parts of the world at the same time, and there is fossil evidence that their paths crossed. A skull of Nimravus (above) found in North America is pierced in the forehead region, the hole exactly matching the dimensions of Eusmilus' saber tooth. The wound was not fatal, however, for Nimravus survived the fight long enough to allow it to heal.

Prehistoric Mammals Size
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