South America, during oil prospecting activities. “It’s South America’s most important discovery in 60 years,” says Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation paleontologist Ascanio Rincon.has found the first fossils of an extinct scimitar cat, one of the saber-toothed cat genus, in
Fossils of six scimitar cats, or Homotherium, were found along with those of panthers, wolves, camels, condors, ducks and horses, all who lived together about 1.8 million years ago. The most important find, he said, was the complete skull of a scimitar cat, an animal never before found in South America.
The scimitar cat is a smaller version of the saber-toothed tiger. It has a hyena-like appearance and smaller, crenelated teeth than its cousin. It was given its common name because its long, sharp, crescent teeth resembled a scimitar, an ancient Persian dagger. Although it was believed to have only inhabited Africa, Eurasia and North Americabetween five million and 10,000 years ago, these fossils prove otherwise. Dr. Rincon estimated the scimitar cat became extinct in South America some 500,000 years ago.
He said the find proved the scimitar cat shared the same habitat with the saber-toothed tiger in South America. Saber-toothed tiger fossils have been found with some frequency in both North and South America. It may have deeper implications in the studies of the migrations of ancient animals and Pangean geography.