I like these guys for a lot of reasons, and mostly because they both possess the physical tools to shred me to bloody ribbons – or, as National Geographic.com puts it, “could swallow a dog in one gulp.” But it’s not just their lethality. They have the coolest names out of the extinct megafauna. “Terror bird” and “sabertooth tiger” are cool enough, but wait until I lay the Latin on you – Titanis walleri and Smilodon fatalis. Drink that in. How much would you pay to drive a car called the Land Rover Smilodon Fatalis? A million damn dollars, probably.
And now, meet Thylacoleo carnifex.
Thylacoleo carnifex nothing special, you say? Doesn’t roll off the tongue like Smilodon fatalis? Maybe not, but its English translation is more badass than all of them: “pouched lion executioner.” Scientists at the University of New South Wales have recently run a high-res bite model and pronounced it “the most efficient killer ever known.” They also decided to throw in that the teeth resemble “massive bolt-cutter like blades” and carnifex “would have been a pretty nasty animal.” Yeah.
Reading about these predators of yore, I’m struck by a powerful truth – with all of the dangers facing mankind today, be it a terrorist attack, carcinogens in the water, automobile accidents…what would really settle things down is a few more animals roaming free that could kill us with teeth and claws. You know, natural causes.