A NEWLY discovered species of feline that roamed central Spain around 15.5 million years ago has been dubbed ‘Madrid cat.’
Officially known by its Latin name, Magerifelis peignei, it was a powerful creature around twice the size of your house cat – and boasted an unusually ‘strong bite when hunting.’
The new species was discovered after palaeontologists from Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales) found a well-preserved jawbone fossil in excavations near Madrid.
The team was able to recreate what the moggy may have looked like based on the fossilised finding, showing a cat that would have weighed about 7.61kg.
Of all modern day creatures, it is thought it might have behaved most like a lynx, which is known for tackling large prey and suffocating them in its jaws.
Researcher Gema Siliceo said: “We recovered the almost complete jaw that preserved almost all of the teeth in an exceptional state.
“The jaw is very robust when compared to that of felines of similar size, which suggests an adaptation to withstand great stresses when biting, probably due to the capture of relatively large prey.”
During the middle Miocene era, around 16 million years ago, Madrid’s climate was even warmer than it is today.
‘Madrid cat’ would have lived and hunted in a landscape dominated by extensive meadows and crisscrossed with small forests in which to take shelter.
Their relatively large prey likely would have been the deer and antelope of the day, while they probably would have made time to tuck in on larger rodents as well.
But ‘Madrid cat’ beware – they would have been rubbing shoulders with predators higher up the food chain, such as the ominous-sounding ‘bear-dog’ and the legendary sabre-toothed cats.