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Prehistoric sabertooth skull found in southwest Iowa

By KCCI Staff

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    IOWA (KCCI) — Researchers at Iowa State University say a fossilized skull found recently in southwest Iowa offers evidence that prehistoric sabertooth cats may have roamed the area.

ISU associate professor of archaeology Matthew Hill and Dave Easterla, emeritus professor of biology at Northwest Missouri State University, published a study Thursday about the well-preserved skull, estimated to be 13,000 years old, which was found in Page County.

“Finds of this animal are widely scattered and usually represented by an isolated tooth or bone,” Hill said. “This skull from the East Nishnabotna River is in near-perfect condition. It’s exquisite.”

They believe the cat was a 2- or 3-year-old male that weighed around 550 pounds. (For comparison, a full-grown African lion weighs roughly 400 pounds.)

Hill said the cat died at the end of the Ice Age and may have been one of the last sabertooth to walk the planet as glaciers receded and temperatures rose, according to an ISU news release.

“We think southwest Iowa during this period was a parkland with patches of trees interspersed with grassy openings, somewhat similar to central Canada today,” said Hill. “The cat would have lived alongside other extinct animals like dire wolf, giant short-faced bear, long-nosed peccary, flat-headed peccary, stag-moose, muskox, and giant ground sloth, and maybe a few bison and mammoth.”

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