Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 82
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
and coyotes. The dire wolf must have been capable of downing many of the large species of
herbivores on the Gulf Coastal Prairies in Ice Age times. Paleontologists know much about
the life and times of this large carnivore from its skeletal remains and those of its prey
species in California's La Brea Tar Pits. Finds of this extinct canid are known from San
Patricio County, central Texas, and the Edwards Plateau.
Now extinct bears (Arctodus sp., Tremarctos sp.) may have frequented wooded
sectors and in dense growth along streams in Colorado County. Their remains have been
reported from deposits in San Patricio County, in central Texas, and on the Edwards Plateau.
The American lion (Panthera sp.) and scimitar cat (Homotherium sp.) were formidable
meat-eaters. It has been suggested that at least the former featured some of the physical
characteristics of the modern African lion. Fossil remains of these cats are known from
collecting sites in San Patricio County, central Texas, and the Edwards Plateau.
The sabertooth (Smilodon sp.) is certainly the most publicized Ice Age meat-
eater. Artistic renditions of what this awesome cat might have looked liked emphasize a
huge, slender and well-muscled body with a massive skull displaying elongated "saber-like"
upper canine teeth. No doubt these dagger-like projections were effective in stabbing even
the largest of Ice Age prey. In contrast, its lower canines were correspondingly reduced. To
bring those sharp, downward projecting upper canines into a forward stabbing position, the
lower jaw was constructed so that it could open to almost a ninety-degree angle to the upper
jaw. Perhaps one day a Colorado County gravel-pit operator may uncover, recognize, and
preserve a skull of one of these highly specialized saber-toothed cats. Currently fossil finds
are known from sites in Bee and San Patricio counties, central Texas, and the Edwards
Mammalian Order PERISSODACTYLA (Odd-toed Ungulates)
Both tapirs and horses, representing this order, apparently roamed the Colorado
County countryside in Ice Age times. Now extinct horses (Equus sp.) thrived on the Texas
Gulf Coastal Prairies, perhaps in much the same way that modern zebras do today on East
African savannas. Like many of their associates these native horses died out by the begin-
ning of the Holocene, thousands of years before modern, Old World domesticated relatives
were first brought to the New World by the Spanish. Fossil remains have been identified
from localities in Harris and San Patricio counties, central Texas, and the Edwards Plateau.
However, Colorado County can claim another kind of native prehistoric horse as its own.
This one, described as a "small stilt-legged horse,"8 lived much earlier (in Middle Pleis-
8 Lundelius and Stevens, "Equus francisci Hay, a small stilt-legged horse, Middle Pleistocene of
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000, periodical, July 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151409/m1/18/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.