Dinofelis is an extinct cat which lived approximately 5 million to 1 million years ago – from the Pliocene Period through the Pleistocene Period. It was first discovered during the first part of the 20th century and was named by Otto Zdansky in 1924. The name of this cat means “terrible cat” and that may be an apt name because it appears this animal specialized in hunting primates and hominids.
One of the most fascinating fact about Dinofelis is that they had no problems attacking our human ancestors or other primates – if one was separated from its group. However, analysis of this cat’s fossils shows that hominids and primates weren’t a part of its primary diet. This animal ate mostly animals that grazed on grass – like the ancestors of antelope and other grass-fed animals.
Dinofelis pictures clearly show that these cats were powerful. They were about 5 feet long and weighed around 250 pounds. That made them about as long as a modern panther but made them a whole lot heavier. Most drawings also show them with teeth of various sizes. Some of them show them with enormous teeth and others with just small teeth. In fact, their teeth were just a little larger than a modern cat’s teeth and not the size of saber-toothed cats.
One of the most interesting facts about Dinofelis, however, is that it isn’t a true saber-toothed cat. No, it is actually only distantly related to Smilodon. And this is the reason many paleontologists have come to call it a “false saber-tooth.”
It is believed that Dinofelis couldn’t run very fast so it was an ambush hunter. It is believed by paleontologists that it would climb trees and then pounce on unsuspecting prey. Sometimes that prey was one of the many grass-feeding species of the time and sometimes it was hominids and baboons.