The sabre-toothed tiger family is experiencing a remarkable increase as scientists have discovered fossils that indicate the presence of not one but two new species. This expands the group of prehistoric cats and changes our understanding of the predators that existed at that time. Paleontologists Qigao Jiangzuo from Peking University and Alberto Valenciano from Complutense University, together with their team of ten, conducted a new study on fossils originally found during excavations in South Africa. These new discoveries were given the names Dinofelis werdelini and Lokotunjailurus chinsamyae. The researchers have published pictures and initial results of their investigations in the journal Cell.
Predators on all continents
The sabre-toothed tigers known so far existed about 5.2 million years ago. It is obvious that the various species show differences depending on the region, which are related to the diverse environmental conditions and habitats in which they lived. Paleontologists assume that these predators were widespread all over the world and on all continents. Only in Australia and Antarctica have no fossils of their species been found so far. During their worldwide distribution, they benefited from their position at the top of the food chain.
In particular, the researchers analysed three different jaws and dentitions, including some that were complete and well preserved. The size and shape of these bones showed no connection to previously known groups, which is a significant discovery for the scientists. Research into these prehistoric animals began many decades ago. In 1970, researchers in South Africa discovered no less than four different species of sabre-toothed tigers. Due to the significant advances in research methods, the research team decided to re-examine these findings.