The fossils were first found in June, tests confirmed they belonged to a saber-toothed cat
Back in June 2012, a team of paleontologists going about their business in the northern hills of Las Vegas stumbled upon some fossilized bones.After unearthing these remains and carrying out various tests, specialists working with the San Bernardino County Museum in California reached the conclusion that the bones belonged to a saber-toothed cat that used to roam these lands during the Pleistocene.
The Las Vegas Review Journal explains that paleontologists have long suspected that saber-toothed cats used to live and hunt in the region now referred to as the Upper Las Vegas Wash, yet up until now this theory lacked concrete evidence.
Thus, prior to their digging up these 16,000-year-old fossilized remains, specialists only had assumptions to work with when trying to promote this theory.
As Kathleen Springer, the current senior curator for the San Bernardino County Museum, puts it, “We knew it had to be there. There was all this amazing lunch [i.e. mammoths, camels and bison] everywhere.”
The remains found by these researchers constitute the animal's two front legs, and apparently, they look rather similar to those belonging to a mountain lion.
The only major difference between the two is that the saber-toothed cat's leg bones are bigger than those of one's run-off-the-mill mountain lion.
“To come up with a meat-eater [fossil] at all is unusual. It showcases the significance of the site, even in terms of the rare animals. We’re pretty excited about it,” commented on these findings Eric Scott, presently working as the San Bernardino County Museum's curator of paleontology.
What Eric Scott is referring to is the fact that, since no natural ecosystems can support large populations of top predators, fossils coming from these prehistoric carnivores are rather difficult to come by, simply because the overall headcount for the species could not have been all that high.
Throughout the course of the following months, the researchers who found these saber-toothed cat remains wish to return to the site and search for other fossils belonging to this prehistoric species of predators.