From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Temporal range: Oligocene, 33.3–26.3 Ma
Nimravus gomphodus.jpg
N. brachyops skull
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Nimravidae
Subfamily: Nimravinae
Genus: Nimravus
Type species
Nimravus brachyops
Cope, 1879
  • N. brachyops Cope, 1879 (type)
  • N. intermedius (Filhol, 1872)

Nimravus is an extinct genus of "false" saber-toothed cat in the family Nimravidae, subfamily Nimravinae, that was endemic to North America during the Oligocene epoch (33.3—26.3 mya), existing for approximately 7 million years.[1]


N. brachyops skull with canines piercing the leg bone of another specimen

Nimravus was named by Edward Drinker Cope in 1879. Two species are recognized, N. brachyops and N. intermedius.[2]

Unrelated to true saber-toothed cats, they evolved a similar form through parallel evolution.


Nimravus was around 1.2 metres (4 ft) in body length. With its sleek body, it may have resembled the modern caracal, although it had a longer back and more dog-like feet with partially retractile claws. It probably hunted birds and small mammals, ambushing them like modern cats, rather than chasing them down. Nimravus competed with other false sabre-tooths such as Hoplophoneus.[3]

A Nimravus skull, found in North America, had been pierced in the forehead region, the hole exactly matching the dimensions of the sabre-like canine of Eusmilus. This particular individual of Nimravus apparently survived this encounter, as the wound showed signs of healing. Another Nimravus fossil from Nebraska was described in 1959 by paleontologist Loren Toohey, and comprises a Nimravus skull with saber-teeth embedded into the scapula of another Nimravus, indicating a fatal incidence of intra-specific combat.[4]

A single specimen was examined by M. Mendoza for body mass and was estimated to have a weight of 29.5 kg (65 lbs).[5]

Fossil distribution[edit]

Restoration of Nimravus (far left) and other animals from the Turtle Cove Formation

Fossils were uncovered in the western U.S. from Oregon to southern California to Nebraska.


  1. ^ PaleoBiology Database: Nimravus, basic info
  2. ^ Barrett PZ. (2016) Taxonomic and systematic revisions to the North American Nimravidae (Mammalia, Carnivora) PeerJ 4:e1658
  3. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 222. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ M. Mendoza, C. M. Janis, and P. Palmqvist. 2006. Estimating the body mass of extinct ungulates: a study on the use of multiple regression. Journal of Zoology