A newly discovered gigantic saber-tooth cat roamed North America 5-9 million years ago and devoured prey like 6,000-pound rhinos. The prehistoric predator weighed in at around 600 pounds, making it the biggest known cat of its time. It’s also one of the biggest ever found, according to a new study in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution.
Researchers discovered the fossils in northeastern Oregon. The fierce cats had long, razor-sharp teeth protruding from their mouths. With powerful forearms and great body mass, the cats also are believed to have feasted on huge camels and ground sloths, along with other prey that weighed several tons.
We have known that giant cats prowled Europe, Asia, and Africa 10 million to 10,000 years ago. But the new find also shows they lived in North America during the same period. It remains unclear whether the newly discovered cats evolved independently on different continents.
The fossil specimens were excavated on the traditional lands of the Cayuse tribe. In honor of the tribe, the researchers named the cat Machairodus lahayishupup. In the Old Cayuse language, Laháyis Húpup means “ancient wild cat.”