Home Characteristics Saber Tooth Tiger Size – How Big were Saber Tooth Tigers?

Saber Tooth Tiger Size – How Big were Saber Tooth Tigers?

Saber Tooth Tiger Size – How Big were Saber Tooth Tigers?
Dantheman9758 / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 3.0]

Saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) were just about the size of modern-day big cats except for slight variation that is the saber tooth cat’s protruding front teeth as well as robust built body. Scientists have recognized three subspecies of saber-tooth cats namely: S. fatalis, S. populator, and S. gracilis. While S. gracilis thought to be the smallest subspecies the S. populator is ranked as the biggest saber tooth tiger ever existed. This article is all about the saber tooth tiger size in comparison to the modern-day lions or tigers.

Saber Tooth Tiger Size – How Big were Saber Tooth Tigers?

saber tooth tiger size
Dantheman9758 / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 3.0]

Saber Tooth Tiger Subspecies

Saber tooth tigers are probably the most popular of the prehistoric cats yet it is curious that how little information about them is available. Even more surprising is that scientists haven’t been able to comprehend about the sexual dimorphism of saber tooth cats. A few studies however suggest that unlike modern-day cats there wasn’t seemed to be any significant variation in the male and female’s size.

Size of S. gracilis

The S. gracilis would be the smallest of all saber tooth cats reaching the maximum weight of only 100 kilograms. But most individuals weighed in between 55 and 100 kg (120 – 220 lb). They were about the size of modern day jaguars.

Size of S. fatalis

S. fatalis was believed to be neither too big nor too small. It was smaller than the S. populator but definitely bigger than the S. gracilis. The adults would reach a shoulder height of 100 cm (39 in) with the overall body length estimated at 175 cm (69 in). It weighed at 60 to 280 kg (350 to 620 lb). The S. fatalis likely reached the size of lions but they had much bigger and robust body mass as compared to lions.

Size of S. populator

Perhaps the biggest of all saber tooth tigers was the S. populator. It is known to be the largest of all felids ever walked on earth. The S. populator had a body mass estimated at 220 to 400 kg (490 to 880 lb). A few records claim that the adults would reach the weight of 470 (1,040 lb).

Saber Tooth Tiger Size – Video


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Sorkin, B. (2008). “A biomechanical constraint on body mass in terrestrial mammalian predators“. Lethaia. 41 (4): 333–347. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.2007.00091.x.

Christiansen, Per; Harris, John M. (2005). “Body size of Smilodon (Mammalia: Felidae)“. Journal of Morphology. 266 (3): 369–84. doi:10.1002/jmor.10384. PMID 16235255.


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