7 - Saber-Toothed Cat
Of all the cute, cuddly animals found in the fossil record, the saber-toothed cat (also called the saber-toothed tiger) is one of the last you would want to meet in a dark alley. With their daggerlike canine teeth and powerful bodies, this animal was one of the most ferocious predators of the Cenozoic Period. It lived in North America and Europe and went extinct about 10,000 years ago. There have been several thousand saber-toothed cat specimens found at the famous La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, Calif. - so many that it was named the state fossil of California.
So, what were these big beasts like in the wild? Evidence suggests that the saber-toothed cat had a social structure much like modern lions, living together and cooperating in order to bring down prey. Interestingly, researchers also believe that a certain amount of nurturing went on in a saber-toothed cat pack. Many individual fossils show signs of extensive regeneration and healing after disease and injury, suggesting an environment in which individuals could be cared for by other members of the group. Despite their terrifying appearance, it seems these animals had a soft side.