Check out these extinct and still alive saber tooth animals! From the prehistoric smilodon and mammoth to the very much alive saber-toothed cat, you won't believe this top 10 list of saber toothed animals!
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In ancient Greece, the legend of the gorgons spoke of three snake-haired sisters Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa who were able to turn anyone who met their gazes into hard, cold stone.
The gorgonops is a creature that was named after these mythical sisters in the 1800s, by a man named Richard Owen. It’s believed that this fanged predator was among the few species that are recognized as the ancestors to some of the world’s earliest mammals. This means that it might have had something between a cold and warm blooded metabolism, making it a truly unique outlier in the animal kingdom, where most creatures fall firmly into being either cold or warm blooded exclusively.
The gorgonops likely had a very thick skull to protect its massive fangs, which it would have used to pierce the thick hides of many of the herbivores that were living during this era.
With an alligator-like head, but a mammal-like body, this creature had an appearance that caused it to look something like a vicious serpent and large, hairless dog!
The gomphotaria was a creature that was essentially a modern day walrus, but with one key difference. Its lower and upper jaws both had a pair of long fangs that it used to hunt its prey. Like the current-day walrus, the gomphotaria’s diet largely consisted of shellfish.
However, the method in which gomphotaria actually ate its food differed from how its modern day cousin gets this job done. The walruses of today are known to suck the shellfish that they hunt from out of their shells in order to consume them.
Unlike their modern counterpart, however, paleontologists and marine biologists suggest that the gomphotaria most likely would have hammered and cracked open the shells of its dinner with its powerful teeth, exposing its prey’s meat through force rather than by pulling it out through suction. Delicious!
10. Musk Deer
The musk deer is a relative of the more common deer species of the world, although of course there are a couple of differences between modern deer and this rare species.
First and foremost, this deer has heavily adapted itself and its body to live in mountainous climates. The musk deer’s feet are rough and just perfect for climbing and traversing rocky and steep terrain. It also has no antlers and, most strangely of all, during their mating season the males all have powerful sets of fangs that protrude from their upper jaws. Yes, Bambi with fangs!! How creepy is that??
These seasonal fangs are used to fight off other males from prospective mates and give the musk deer an odd, vampiric look. In reality though, the musk deer is a pretty shy creature.
Its name comes from a musk gland that the deer has in its body that is used to make perfumes and colognes. Oddly enough, while it is thought to be the ancestor of the common deer, musk deer are often said by experts to be more closely related to goats, antelopes, and other similar species. Imagine all of those animals with fangs.
In any case, the musk deer is a great example of a living saber-toothed animal.
9. Clouded Leopard
Another example of a saber-toothed creature that’s still around, the clouded leopard is a small, but naturally muscular and particularly skillful member of the feline family.
The clouded leopard isn’t exactly a fully fledged saber-toothed cat, however, its fangs are notably long and resemble those of the earliest saber-toothed cat species. They liiiive!!
Some researchers speculate that the clouded leopard appears to be evolving into a new species of saber-toothed cat and that it will one day be one of the first newly evolved species of saber-toothed felines if given enough time.
Sadly, the clouded leopard is endangered and may never get to that point. It is extinct in many countries around the world and absent from most of its original natural habitats.
There are efforts in place that are trying to save this very special feline, but if its habitat isn’t saved and its species isn’t preserved then what’s being done is definitely not enough!
The loss of the clouded leopard would be a scientific shame, considering this cat offers us a chance to glimpse how the saber toothed animals of the past might have evolved at one time.
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