The African lion is the largest kitty that exists on the planet today, but less than 12,000 years ago there was an even larger cat that dominated North America. We are all familiar with Smilodon (a.k.a. the Sabertooth-Tiger) and what a perfect hunter it was. The American lion was larger, and more powerful in almost every aspect. Smilodon had these iconic 12 inch saber teeth that was originally thought to have been used for basically stabbing its victims over and over resulting puncturing organs and massive blood loss. What we have discovered is that the skull of this animal would not have been able to withstand the impact of the bones of its prey against the teeth. If Smilodon leaped through the air and used its head like spear to kill its prey it would have most certainly would have broken its saber teeth and rattled its brain if it connected with a large mammals backbone. By hunting in packs it would have used the same strategy as modern day pride hunting cats and used their combined efforts to bring a large mammal down and then when they had the opportunity, they would sink their large saber teeth into the soft tissue of the neck of its victims, this time resulting in massive blood loss and suffocation.
The American lion on the other hand had a skull and teeth designed for impact and ripping through flesh. The teeth of the American lion range from 2 inches to 4 inches in length but are thick and solidly supported at the root. This means this lion could open and close its mouth on its prey and rip through flesh with ease. It was the most powerful and largest predatory cat that we have record of.
I recently had the privilege of of seeing the skeleton of this large cat at the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles California. I highly recommend this museum to anyone who has the opportunity to go. The tar pits has o