Smilodon fatalis
    Rancho La Brea Formation, Los Angeles, California, USA

    The Great Saber-Toothed Tiger, S. fatalis, ranged throughout North America during the last Ice Age. Fossils belonging to these extraordinary cats are not found outside of the New World and are therefore considered an American paleontological symbol - S. fatalis itself is the Official State Fossil of California. Unlike several other species of so-called Saber-Toothed Tiger, the Smilodon was a member of the true cat family (Felidae), classified in the subfamily, Machairodontinae. Their most striking and unique features are found in the skull and teeth, but the animal's external appearance has been inferred through studies of the whole skeletal structure. Overall body proportions were different from those of any living Felid, although as is immediately apparent from this spectacular skeleton, it approximated the same size and weight of the modern African Lion. Short, sturdy legs, a relatively long neck and shorter lower back, and a bobtail, provide some clues as to its lifestyle: these features imply that an extended chase was not employed in prey capture, and the robust front limbs indicate that the prey could greatly exceeded the cats' own body weight. Ambush and stalking techniques are most likely, especially due to the lack of a long tail, which would normally be used for balance at pursuit speed.

    The original from which this skeleton was cast is held in the George C. Page Museum of the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, in Los Angeles, California. Rancho La Brea is probably the single most important Late Pleistocene locality in North America. It is renowned for its extensive collections of well-preserved mammals and birds, as well as numerous insects, gastropods and plant remains. The superb bone texture and full dentition on this dramatic piece have been reproduced to perfection, with a warm dark brown patina, out from which the creamy enamel of the teeth strikingly leap. The massive sabers measure 6 full inches around the curve, and presented in a forward-leaping attack pose on a discreet metal base, mouth fearsomely agape, it stands 63 inches high, an exemplary and highly dramatic specimen of American Natural History.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    20th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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