The Reason Why Saber-Toothed Tigers Went Extinct

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Saber-tooth tigers. Cool, right?Well, maybe. At first, it kind of seems like it would be
pretty crazy if saber-toothed tigers stillroamed the American wilderness. But just imagine for a second if you had to
worry about giant fanged cats while you werecamping. Forget putting your food in a bear locker
you’d have to put your whole tent in one ofthose things. Yeah, saber-toothed tigers were cool, but
their extinction pretty much made the wholecamping and outdoor recreation industry possible. But that begs the question: Why did they go
extinct?It seems incredible to think that something
as badass as a giant cat with teeth the sizeof your hand could ever be taken down by the
forces of nature, but that’s apparently whathappened. Just not the way we thought. For a long time, it was believed that saber-tooth
tigers died out because food was scarce. But scientists have now looked at the fossilized
teeth from 15 saber-toothed tigers and foundthat they lacked the kind of wear pattern
you’d expect to see in an animal that isn’tgetting enough to eat. According to the Huffington Post, a starving
cat would likely gnaw every kill it founddown to the bone, so its teeth would show
a micro-wear pattern similar to what you seein hyenas, which are efficient scavengers
that typically consume every part of a carcassfrom hide to skeleton. “Look at you guys. No wonder we’re dangling at the bottom of
the food chain!”That wear pattern is missing from sabertooth
tiger teeth, though, so the big cats’ extinctionprobably wasn’t due to a scarcity of prey. So what gives?Well, research by the Australian Centre for
Ancient DNA suggests that it was probablya combination of a warming climate and human
activity. Interestingly, humans and saber-toothed tigers
co-existed for at least a thousand years,and it was only when the climate started to
rapidly warm that populations of megafaunaoversized animals that include the saber-tooth
tiger began to decline. After that warming event, much of the world’s
megafauna were extinct within a century. But why?It’s impossible to say for sure, but the big
wild card seems to have been you guessed it!humanity. Studies have shown that the migration patterns
of humans and our now-extinct cousins likeNeanderthals and Denisovans closely correlate
with the decline of large mammals all overthe world. As our ancestors and other human species migrated
north to Europe and Asia, the average sizeof land mammals dropped by roughly half. The same thing happened when humans got to
Australia, only on a larger scale Australianland mammals got about 10 times smaller. And in America, the average size of land mammals
dropped from “mega” to “minuscule. “Before human arrival, the average American
land mammal weighed around 216 pounds. After early humans showed up and started waving
their spears around, that dropped to an averageof 17 pounds. It’s difficult to tell how much climate change
may have also contributed. But according to The Atlantic, the decline
of large mammals might have had somethinglike a snowball effect, since, whenever there’s
an extinction event, it tends to irreversiblyalter the ecosystems where those animals live. So once humans and hot weather combined to
kill off a few key species, the rest may havetumbled like dominoes. But since the study of sabre-tooth tiger teeth
doesn’t actually show any evidence that theloss of large prey animals directly led to
their extinction, we’re left to guess. One theory?Well, if large mammals were no longer around
to eat, it’s possible that sabre-tooth tigersmay have turned to smaller mammals for food
including humans. And if that happened, chances are humanity
reacted by doing what it does best: killingevery possible threat immediately. So did humans hunt sabre-tooth tigers into
extinction?For now, it’s just another unsubstantiated
theory and unless some brave soul inventsa time machine and heads to the past to find
out in person, it may just have to stay thatway. Sorry, sabre-tooth tigers!You were cool, and we’re really sorry if we
had to kill you. Check out one of our newest videos right here!Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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