Ancient feline species — capable of rapidly killing large prey — discovered in Spain

The cat is out of the bag. A previously unknown species of extinct feline that once hunted large animals was recently discovered.

The carnivorous creature’s well-preserved fossilized remains were unearthed in Madrid, Spain, according to a study published on Jan. 16 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Upon analyzing the remains — composed of a jaw and multiple teeth — researchers determined they belonged to an ancient medium-sized cat.

The species was named peignei in a nod to French paleontologist Stéphane Peigné and was added to a new genus, named Magerifelis, after Magerit, a historic name for Madrid.

The cat roamed the Earth during the Middle Miocene, which spanned a period from 16 to 11 million years ago.

It only weighed about 16 pounds, making it not much larger than the average domestic cat.

But despite its middling size, it appears to have had powerful muscles, allowing it to punch above its weight, researchers said.

These features would have made it “capable of generating a strong bite force when hunting, and that would have allowed it to kill relatively large prey,” researchers said.

It may have hunted members of the genus Micromeryx, a family of prehistoric deer. Though it’s likely its most common prey would have been smaller vertebrates, including mice and birds.

It’s likely that, upon catching its prey, it would have carried it away, possibly into trees, in order to avoid other predators.

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