1996 32¢ Saber-Tooth Cat
Issue Date: June 8, 1996
City: Toronto, Canada
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 11.1 x 11
The saber-tooth cat of prehistoric times is classified in a subfamily of the cat family (Felidae) called Machairodontinae. Saber-tooth cats were named for their large upper canine teeth. These teeth were curved like sabers, and could be up to eight inches long! The saber-tooth cats had very strong necks and skulls, their lower canines were relatively small in size, and their mouths could be opened to a 90 degree angle. All of these features suggest the saber-tooth cat used its canine teeth for stabbing and slashing its prey.
About 2 million years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch, the most famous of the saber-tooth cats, the Smilodon, appeared. This animal represented the peak of saber-tooth evolution. It was approximately the same size as a tiger, but stockier and with shorter limbs. Smilodon roamed all over North and South America hunting large plant-eaters such as mammoths. Many Smilodon bones have been preserved in the tar pits of Rancho La Brea in Los Angeles, California.
The saber-tooth cats became extinct approximately 10,000 years ago. During that time the last glaciers retreated north. The changing climate, the subsequent changes in plants, and the success of man were probably responsible for the demise of the saber-tooth cat.