Paleobiology of sabretooth cat Smilodon populator in the Pampean Region (Buenos Aires Province, Argentina) around the Last Glacial Maximum: Insights from carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in bone collagen
Bocherens et al
The sabretooth cat Smilodon populator was the largest felid in South America. It appears in the fossil record in the Early Pleistocene, as an immigrant from North America, and becomes extinct around the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary. The carbon and nitrogen stable isotopic values of collagen were measured for skeletal remains from Smilodon specimens ranging in age from 25 to 10 kyr BP, for the first time in the Pampas region of Argentina. By comparison with similar values obtained on co-eval predators such as Protocyon (large canid) and Panthera onca (jaguar) and a range of potential prey, such as giant ground sloths, glyptodontids, Macrauchenia, Toxodon, equids, cervids, and rodents, it could be established that Smilodon consumed essentially large prey from open landscape, such as Macrauchenia and giant ground sloths during the last 15,000 years of the Late Pleistocene in the Pampa region. It was possibly competing with the large canid Protocyon but the jaguar was apparently feeding on smaller size prey. A more humid climate at the beginning of the Holocene might have been unfavorable to this large predator and could have contributed to its extinction. These results also provide an important insight to understand the ecological processes involved in the Great American Biotic Interchange.