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And like tigers, scimitars had powerful jaws helping them to dismantle the bodies of their prey. These crushing jaws are also used to carry large kills back to dens. Like most cats, the scimitar was probably a solitary hunter, and like generations of earlier occupants, it would have used this cave to store fresh carcasses. This may also have been a birthing den, a safe place for the scimitar to leave its young while hunting. In the quiet of its hideaway, the scimitar could rest after a kill and this one, perhaps old or injured, seems to have come home to die. Scimitar cats became extinct around the same time as the mastodons and mammoths another hint that they depended on the elephant-like creatures for their food. But the evidence suggests these cats normally attacked young animals, making it unlikely that a scimitar killed the olympic peninsula mastodon. So if it wasn’t killed by human hunters or by a scimitar, perhaps this mastodon was not the victim of a predator at all. Another theory comes from the bones themselves. The cheek teeth used for browsing were extremely worn almost down to the gum. A sign of heavy use over many years. But this wear and tear may also have resulted from eating food outside the mastodon’s normal diet. Bones of grazers such as bison lay close to its skeleton, implying this was open grassland at the time. Caribou were also found nearby creatures that also favour open spaces. Today they live mainly on the tundra of the far north. The presence of these other animals suggests the mastodon was not surrounded by its normal forest habitat. Instead this area was treeless grassland grazed by caribou and bison. Unlike a mammoth, mastodon teeth weren’t designed for eating grass, which contains large amounts of erosive silica. The silica may have destroyed this mastodon’s teeth early and contributed to its death. In the end it seems this bull was probably a victim of a bad diet and old age. Now we’ve seen the evidence, we’re equipped to travel back in time, back to the end of the last ice age , years ago to experience a day in the life of the northwest, as witnessed by the first people.


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