Named By: Schultz, Schultz & Martin - 1970.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Barbourofelidae.
Species: B. fricki (type), B. loveorum, B. morrisi, B. osborni, B. piveteaui, B. vallensiensis, B. whitfordi.
Size: Up to 1.8 meters long.
Known locations: North America.
Time period: Serravallian to Messinian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Many specimens.
is easily one of the largest of the ‘false
which were carnivorous mammals that through convergent evolution
evolved to be very much like cats in form even though they are in fact
quite distantly related. For this reason Barbourofelis
quoted as being a member of the Nimravidae, a large group of false
sabre toothed cats, although most palaeontologists place
Barbourofelis within its own related but distinct
Barbourofelis was a powerfully built predator with a skeletal structure that is indicative of a strongly developed musculature similar in scale to the much later and true sabre-toothed cat Smilodon populator. This hints that like Smilodon populator, Barbourofelis was very physical in its attacks upon animals, subduing them with brute strength before using its enlarged sabre like upper canines to deliver a killing bite. The large size also hints at a specialisation in slower but more powerful prey like primitive rhinos that would have been very common in North America during the Miocene.
Barbourofelis was not the only false sabre-toothed cat in North America, although the other earlier forms such as nimravids like Nimravus and Hoplophoneus were much smaller. The main predatory competition for Barbourofelis would have been bear dogs like Amphicyon that were also very large and powerful predators. However niether Barbourofelis nor Amphicyon lived beyond the Miocene, and it’s thought that a combination of climate change yielding new herbivores and new more advanced predators to hunt them displaced these two powerful animals as top predators, with extinction soon following.
- Bulletin of the Nebraska State Museum 9(1). - C. B. Schultz et al - 1970.
- Barbourofelis (Nimravidae) and Nimravides (Felidae), with a Description of Two New Species from the Late Miocene of Florida. - Journal of Mammalogy 62(1):122-139. - J. A. baskin - 1981.