Saber-Toothed Cat Unearthed in Venezuela

Venezuela has found the first fossils of an extinct scimitar cat -- of the saber-toothed cat genus -- in South America, during oil prospecting activities southeast of Caracas, paleontologists announced.

"It's South America's most important discovery in 60 years," Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation paleontologist Ascanio Rincon said on Monday.

He said fossils of six scimitar cats, or Homotherium, were found along with those of panthers, wolves, camels, condors, ducks and horses, all from about 1.8 million years ago, by a Petroleos de Venezuela team looking for oil in Monagas state in 2006.

The most important find, he said, was the complete skull of a scimitar cat, an animal never before found in South America.

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