Lemmus Scimitardontii: The Sabertooth Lemming

Guest_Jim_* - April 1, 2012 02:47PM in Science & Technology

Before the age of man, many a magnificent creature walked the earth, such as the mammoth, the mastodon and giant ground sloths. These examples of megafauna ruled the ground beneath their feet, but if they were not careful, they stepped on more the soil and stone.

The Lemmus scimitardontii, or saber tooth lemming, ran about during the last ice age and researchers have recently found a deposit of these creatures' remains. Roughly the size of a guinea pig with fangs twice the length of its head, these animals would be far more intimidating than modern lemmings. Although, such large fangs are not easy to wield, so what benefit would they have brought? The razor-sharp teeth could possibly have protected large groups of the lemmings, at the cost of one member. When a predator would try to eat the lemming, the teeth would have seriously damaged the digestive system, which would either directly cause death or cause an infection which would then lead to death, or a great distaste for lemming meat.

The remains were found at the base of a Norwegian fjord, as it appears the creatures had run off the edge to their death, thousands of years ago. Paleontologists from the High-Artic Institute Museum of Montreal estimate that the site is roughly three soccer fields in area.

This is certainly an interesting creature, especially when one remembers that lemmings are herbivores, so the fangs would do little to help them acquire food. Of course, this is not the first time Nature has thrown us something seemingly just to fool with us. How else do you explain the platypus?