Ice Age Lion
from the book, "Our Fascinating Earth"

Book: 
Our Fascinating Earth

Ice Age Lion

The most famous of the Ice Age predators to inhabit California was the large saber—toothed cat Smilodon. A more formidable and larger specimen of the carnivorous cats, however, was the gigantic American lion Felis atrox. The animal was proportioned very much like the modern African lion and probably looked quite similar, with one major exception — it was more than one—third larger and heavier!

The famous saber—toothed cat was about the size of a modern African lion and would therefore have been dwarfed if it stood next to the Ice Age lion. Carnivore remains found in the La Brea Tar Pits in the Los Angeles area number in the thousands and are represented mainly by the wolf and the saber—toothed cat. Obviously these carnivores ignored the death trap of the ages and seldom hesitated to rush into the tar pits to secure some helplessly trapped horse or deer. The record of almost 100 percent fatality to all that trespassed there never seems to have pierced their thick skulls.

Approximately one hundred skeletal remains of the American lion have been recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits. Compared with the thousands of saber—toothed cats recovered from the pits, this is a remarkably small number. It can be assumed that they had a high degree of intelligence and learned to avoid the death trap beckoning to them from the tar pits. Despite its higher—level thinking, the Ice Age American lion did not outlive the saber—toothed cats. When the great Pleistocene extinctions took place, the American lion was right in there!