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Saber-toothed cats in Paraguay ?

Science Illustrée of September 1998 reports an observation by a French sailor, François Piquet (sic), of a saber-toothed cat in Paraguay in 1984.

Reports on saber-toothed cats have been already recorded in South America, for instance by naturalist Peter Matthiessen (1966). While in Paraguay, Matthiessen was told by a seaman named Picquet about the existence of a mysterious cat :

"[He] described a rare striped cat not quite so large as a jaguar and very timid, which is possessed of two very large protruding teeth : this animal, he said, occurs in the mountain jungles of Colombia and Ecuador, and he has glimpsed it once himself." (from Matthiessen 1966).

The article in Science Illustrée mentions an observation in 1984 in Paraguay, of a saber-toothed cat coming out of a cavern, appearently distinct from the previous report, which occured about 20 years earlier -- but it seems that the article is mistaking Matthiessen's report with stories of saber-toothed cats in Africa reported by Christian Le Noël.

Such reports of saber-toothed cats in Latin America could be explained by the present survival of the Smilodon (figure 1), which is supposed to have become extinct not so long ago (geologically speaking) : specimens found in Rancho La Brea tar pits, in California, are only 10,000 years old.

 
Figure 1 : reconstruction of a Smilodon.

More details on the French page.

References :

Anonymous
1998 Le félin aux dents de sabre. Science Illustrée, n° 9 : 62 (septembre).

MATTHIESSEN, Peter
1966 The cloud forest. New York, Pyramid Books : 32-33.

 

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