Professor Hervé Bocherens of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen examined the bones of saber-toothed cats that lived in Argentina's Pampas region in the period 25,000-10,000 B.C to piece together the animal's paleoecology.
He compared collagen samples from the bones of various ice age predators – including the saber-toothed cat, the jaguar (Panthera onca), and a species of wild dog (Protocyon) – with those of their likely prey. The carbon and nitrogen isotopes he found there enabled him to draw conclusions about the kind of environment the animals lived in.
Bocherens said that paleontologists had assumed a predator weighing up to 400 kilograms with a bone structure similar to a forest-dwelling cat would have likely hunted in woodlands. It would have been easier for a large cat to hide in dense vegetation to surprise its prey, or so it was thought.