Sabertooths were probably pack animals

As if they weren’t mean enough, now it emerges that sabertooths were probably pack animals

Sabertooths were frightening beasts. About the size of tigers (huge) and with enormous 20cm fangs these guys were mean. And if that isn’t enough, new research suggests that they were pack animals like modern lions (the Ice Age movies had it right).

How they worked that out is a little complex:

  • Tar pits are spots where tar literally rises from the ground. They make excellent spots to find fossils because animals got stuck and were then well preserved
  • Sabertooths are very common in tar pits. Probably because they responded to the distress calls of prey animals and themselves became stuck
  • The researchers did a comparative study in Africa by playing the sounds of prey animals in distress
  • They found that only pack animals (lions and hyenas) responded in any numbers

So basically, by comparing the ratios of sabertooth remains in the tar pits with the study in Africa the researchers could take an educated guess that sabertooths lived in packs.