Ice Age Predators from the Early Paleoindian Period


Image from the Dire Wolf Project (

We don’t find many predators in our assemblages on the Southern High Plains.  When we do, it is generally a tooth, a single toe bone, or a few bits.  Predators weren’t hunted in droves and likely wander off to die alone so they don’t end up in the cultural assemblage.  However…

There are some interesting finds coming from UNLV lately.  Las Vegas wash has produced many fossil animals, but, just as in many other ancient sites, it’s the predators that are the rare ones.

“The Pleistocene predators are starting to pile up in the fossil-rich hills at the northern edge of the valley.

Less than a month after a California team found evidence of a saber-tooth cat in the Upper Las Vegas Wash, UNLV researchers announced the discovery of a 1½-inch long foot bone from what they believe was a dire wolf that stalked the valley between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago.”  Read the article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal here.


There is more information about the saber-tooth cats in this short article in the RGJ.  Another interesting find that I want to know more from.  With so much great information coming out through the scientific community, and the exponential nature of the data, it’s sad to think of all the time and energy focused away from this good stuff and onto the wacky pseudo-science floating across the television and internet.

Smilodon fatalis.  Image from the Indiana Geological Surevey (click image for more information).

Smilodon fatalis. Image from the Indiana Geological Survey (click image for more information).