Chapter6 - The Big Cats

The Pteranodon Trolley carried them beyond the primeval forest glade and out over a sparsely wooded meadow. Stands of white-barked poplar trees and redwoods dotted the landscape. Barry noticed movement close to a large rock outcropping. "Look, Mimi," he whispered excitedly, "Sabertooths!"

Mimi leaned out over the side and saw two magnificent sabertooth cats as big as lions. Their smooth muscles rippled beneath their thick, brown coats as they walked. One of them stopped to lazily scratch and yawn in the warm sun. "No wonder they're called sabertooths," she said, looking at the feline's curved six-inch fangs in amazement.

Suddenly, with a blur of motion, a small brown ball of fur leaped up onto the stomach of the huge cat and began snarling furiously. Mimi was almost afraid to watch. She knew any creature daring to attack the sabertooth could be ruthlessly torn to shreds. Instead, the savage cat rolled over onto its back and began playfully pawing and growling at the smaller animal.

"Barry!" she exclaimed, "Kittens!" In a flash, two other kittens joined the first, bouncing around and hissing fiercely. As Mimi and Barry watched in fascination, the family of fearful predators romped and played with carefree abandon.

Sabertooth tigers and kittens

The automated guide came to life when Mimi found the right picture and pushed the button. "Smilodon info, a sabertooth cat, was one of the most successful carnivores ever. It roamed the prehistoric landscape during the Pleistocene Epoch, hunting bison, mammoths and herds of ungulates, or hoofed mammals."

Off in the distance the children heard a loud trumpeting call. "That sounded like an elephant!" Barry said. The big sabertooths abruptly leapt to their feet. As though some unseen signal had passed between them, the kittens instantly quieted down. The big cats crouched low and moved stealthily out from behind the rocks, the little ones following, instinctively taking a lesson in how to hunt by imitating the adults.

Silently the sabertooth cats began to inch their way forward. The hunt had begun.

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