The Cryptid Zoo: Smilodon (or Saber-Toothed Cats)

Modern sightings of saber-toothed cats have come from Colombia, Paraguay and Ecuador during the twentieth century. Described as striped (not spotted like the jaguar) big cats of about 150 pounds in weight, they have the saber-like teeth familiar from the many illustrations and fossil remains of this presumably extinct cat, even though at least some native informants had probably never heard of this ice age predator.

It has also been suggested that these sightings are of a species of saber-toothed marsupial predator that once lived in South America, but is thought to be extinct. In any case, whether this animal is a feline or a pseudo-feline, all South American reports of large predators with elongated fangs tend to get lumped together in the same category, making it difficult for a researcher to sift through the sightings for features that may indicate the survival of either animal.

Reports of saber-toothed big cats have also come from the depths of Africa and other places, but less attention has been paid to these in the cryptozoology community. There have even been sightings in highly populated areas in Europe and North America, but these reports are hardly ever considered seriously except by people working in fringe cryptozoology.

One interesting feature of modern reports is the large number of them which describe saber-toothed cats as being highly aquatic in their lifestyle. Such reports come from both Africa and South America. Some researchers speculate that saber-toothed cats managed to survive by adopting a more water-based lifestyle, lurking in the water to seize prey, and living in dens with underground entrances. If true, this would be a good reason why the animals remain so elusive. Other features of these legends link aquatic saber-toothed cats with the tapire-iauara, a strange South American mammal that could be a mesonychid predator or a mystery tapir.

You can find out more about Smilodon and Saber-toothed Cats from the following sources:

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Page 210-211

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America: The Revised Edition. New York: Paraview Press, 2001. Page 152

Eaton, Matthew J. Sabre-toothed Cats
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Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 32, 165, 188, 205, 237, 278, 344, 346, 404, 413-414, 461, 482-483, 485-486, 498

Moggycat. Anomalous Felids

Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002. Pages 135, 153, 190, 223

Wikipedia, The. Saber-Toothed Cat

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