The big cats that we know today are but an image of the species appeared then disappeared during the last 60 million years. Of course, I think of the famous saber-toothed tiger of our youngest years, but it is not alone.
“The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives” of Alan Turner, illustrated by Mauricio Anton, is one of the enthralling books you sometimes find on a shelf. It simply browses through these dead speacies of big cats. I would have liked to find them in a photo safari, for sure:
- Simodon fatalis, whose killing smile probably allowed it to hunt bisons;
- Acinonix inexpectatus, the giant North American cheetah that some would like to re-introduce indirectly under the likes of its current African cousin;
- Homotherium serum, whose slope-backed appearance would remind of current-day hyenas.
A book that is read like a novel and is still a scientific work aimed toward a large reading public willing to know more about the big cats of prehistoric times, their evolution, their links with today’s big cats.