A Saber-toothed Cat?


Like most of my stories, this one involves being out in the early morning hours. Between August 2009 and February 2011, I was living in Wesley, Arkansas and doing a newspaper route in a nearby town, which put me on the road between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. every day. One early morning I was headed into town to do my newspaper route when I came across a strange creature that I’m not real sure truly existed.

mountain_lionIt was on a very small straight stretch at the county line intersection between Washington County and Madison County on highway 74. I was driving slowly due to the wildlife running around when I noticed a deer laying in the road with a blood trail across the road where something had drug it. When I stopped close to the deer I noticed a large cat in the ditch trying to hide.

lionAt first I thought this was a regular mountain lion – or a cougar depending on what you want to call it. When the creature set up and hissed at me, I noticed it had very long front fangs, was really large, and did not look like a normal mountain lion. It had somewhat of a mane around its neck that made it look more like a cross between an African lion and a mountain lion.

ligerI know that some breeds of big cats can crossbreed such as the African lion and a tiger which is where they come up with the Liger and Tigon. I am just not sure if there was a regular lion in the area that could have cross bred with a mountain lion. Another puzzling factor was the large teeth of this cat. Could this cat be a mix between two breeds of large cats? Could the large size, strange mane, and large fangs be the result of inbreeding that caused a genetic defect?

tigonI saw the cat two more times and was amazed at the beauty of such a large animal. One of the times I saw the cat, it was just starting to get dark and I was crossing the bridge in Wesley. At the end of the bridge was the large cat with a fish in its mouth. The other time I saw the cat was during the daytime, probably early afternoon hours, and it was crossing the field just below the trailer I was living in. It was sticking to the tree line and disappeared toward the creek.

I never saw the cat again since I moved away not long after the last time I saw it. The really interesting thing is that when I was searching for images to use with this article, I came across an image that gave me chills! It was almost perfect in the details to the large cat I had seen!!!

saber tooth catAccording to the article with the image, this cat was known as the Smilodon – a breed of saber-toothed cats that lived throughout North and South America during the Pleistocene, from about 2.5 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. Is it possible that a small number of these cats have managed to live undetected in the backwoods of Madison County? Or maybe I was close with my guess of crossbreeding of two large cats.

Side note – The Game and Fish / Wildlife people may tell us that there are no mountain lions that live in this area – but I know for a fact that there are several that are in Madison County.  In the Japton area where some of my family lives, I was walking through the woods when I was a child – probably around 10 or 11 years old – and came across 2 cubs playing, with their momma watching me from a short distance away.  I did not try to catch or play with the cubs so the mom did not see me as a threat.  Other people in the Japton area have seen or heard the big cats – so we know they are there even if the Game and Fish officers tell us no.

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