Happy caturday! Here’s an illustration showing five of the largest cat species to have ever lived!
From left to right, those cats are…
American Lion (Panthera leo atrox)
Possibly the largest cat to have ever lived, looking remarkably like modern day lions, only much larger. These animals have been extinct for about 11,000 years.
Sabre-Toothed Cat (Smilodon populator)
The smilodon was the most heavily built cat ever and, as you can tell at a glance from those vicious looking fangs, you wouldn’t have wanted to mess with one. Smilodon populator was the largest and heaviest of three known species of smilodon. It went extinct around 10,000 years ago.
Panthera tigris acutidens
An extinct species of asian tiger, possibly the largest tiger to have ever lived. Unfortunately, their fossils are extremely rare and mostly in the hands of collectors, so little is known about them.
European Cave Lion (Panthera leo spelaea)
An extinct lion subspecies, known to be depicted in cave art, as well as ivory carvings and clay figurines. Actually, there’s a little uncertainty about what species this cat belonged to. It was closely related to lion subspecies, but its skull shape is more similar to tiger subspecies. Some even consider it a species in its own right.
Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
These magnificent beasts are still alive today. They’re the largest cats in the modern world, using their size to outcompete other predators (such as wolves and bears) in their habitat. They’re also critically endangered, with the population of tigers in Russia declining slowly, despite the best efforts of conservationists.
Siberian tigers are also totally adorable…
(Size chart via Scientific Illustration Tumblr. I’m afraid I don’t know the source for the image. If you do, please drop me a comment and tell me!)