How did Machairodontinae share habitats with the current big cats for millions of years?
Animals like american lions and smilodon lived in the same habitats for a long period of time.
Did they eat different prey?
or was their just an incredibly large amount of food around at the time
- RayLv 62 months ago
That would depend on the species of saber tooth, different species varied in size and likely filled different niches.
Just like in Africa today, you had multiple big cat species of different sizes which specialize in hunting different herbivores, they likely also took food from smaller herbivores as carnivores do today.
In the Americas it is important to note that brown bears did not exist before 10k years ago. Inland grizzly's today likely fill a similar niche left by big saber tooths like smilodon, though it is believed that brown bears could not menetrate the Americas because of the flat faced bears.
When the big herbivores died, flat faced bears and smilodons died out, in came the brown bears.
- JazSincLv 72 months ago
Have a look at lions, leopards, and cheetahs today. Their ranges overlap (still) in some places. The cheetahs have specialized in eating Thomson's gazelle which is too fast for the other big cats. The lions can kill bigger prey than the leopards can manage. The leopard can go after a treed prey (the other big cats aren't as good at tree-climbing).
There was probably a similar niche partitioning going on in California up until 15,000 years ago.
The "American cheetah" probably specialized in hunting the fast pronghorn.
The sabertooths may have specialized in hunting horses.
The American lion was pretty darn big. They may have chowed down on things like the mastodon, the Imperial mammoth, bison. They may also have scavenged the kills of the sabertooths and the then-extant bears and dire wolves.
- David B.Lv 72 months ago
Considering that they lived alongside some of the big cats that exist today, it probably had something to do with their anatomy. Specifically that of their jaws. It may be that their evolutionary development was for prey that was for some reason reduced near the end. Apparently they competed with other big cats for the same prey but had a bit force that was only one third that of an adult lion. It is conceivable that they just starved over time but I guess we will never know for certain.