Name: Xenosmilus ‭(‬Foreign knife‭)‬.
Phonetic: Zee-no-smi-lus.
Named By: Martin,‭ ‬Babiarz,‭ ‬Naples‭ & ‬Hearst‭ ‬2000.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Carnivora,‭ ‬Felidae,‭ ‬Machairodontinae,‭ ‬Machairodontini.
Species: X.‭ ‬hodsonae‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: 1.7‭ ‬to‭ ‬1.8‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: USA,‭ ‬Florida,‭ ‬Alachua County.
Time period: Calabrian of the Pleistocene.
Fossil representation: Remains of two almost complete individuals.

       Although not as famous as Smilodon,‭ ‬Xenosmilus was nonetheless an exceptionally powerful Pleistocene era big cat that is estimated to have weighed between‭ ‬230-400‭ ‬kg.‭ ‬This estimate puts Xenosmilus within the same weight class as the largest species of Smilodon,‭ ‬and even though it was smaller,‭ ‬Xenosmilus would have been proportionately stronger for its size.‭
       Xenosmilus had been placed within the Machairodontinae group of sabre-toothed cats,‭ ‬mainly because of the large forward canines.‭ ‬However the canines were not as long as they were in other species,‭ ‬although the teeth in general do seem to be more robust possibly indicating that prey was still alive and struggling when they were brought into use.‭ ‬However the immensely powerful‭ ‬build of Xenosmilus‭ ‬meant that it was‭ ‬capable of wrestling almost any prey to the ground with ease,‭ ‬suggesting that teeth breakage would not have to be risked.‭
       Because Xenosmilus has a powerful short legged build associated with the dirk toothed cats combined with broad upper canines as seen in the scimitar tooth cats,‭ ‬its exact classification has been a subject of some confusion.‭ ‬It could be that Xenosmilus displays a link between the two cat groups,‭ ‬or alternatively the features of Xenosmilus are simply a freak case of convergent evolution.
       Xenosmilus is estimated to have lived one million years ago during the Calabrian phase of the Pleistocene.‭ ‬However because only the two specimens from the same locale are known,‭ ‬the full temporal range of Xenosmilus in the fossil record cannot be established.‭ ‬However this placement does reveal that potential competition for Xenosmilus could have come from the earlier species of Smilodon,‭ ‬Dire wolves,‭ ‬and possibly the Dire wolf ancestor,‭ ‬Armbruster's Wolf.‭
       One of the prey animals chosen by Xenosmilus are peccaries,‭ ‬often referred to as New World Pigs.‭ ‬This is confirmed by the presence of numerous peccary bones found in association with the Xenosmilus remains,‭ ‬and during the Pleistocene peccaries would have provided an abundant food source.

Further reading
- Three ways to be a saber-toothed cat. - Naturwissenschaften 87:41-44 - L. D. Martin, J. P. Babiarz, V. L. Naples & J. Hearst - 2000.


Random favourites