“With our present data, we don’t know what precisely the interactions were between a primate and a big carnivore. But probably these interactions were not so friendly,” said Professor Vignaud.
He told BBC News: “Sabretooths hunted all mammals; bovids, equids… and primates. The interactions were also more ‘psychological’, exercising a stress on potential prey. We can’t prove it but it’s probably important because in that case, primates had to live near closed environments like gallery forest.”
While ancient primates like Sahelanthropus tchadensis gave sabretooth cats a wide berth, they may also have depended on these big carnivores – and others – for their survival.
Sabretooths would have hunted large herbivorous mammals, and probably left enough meat on their kills for scavengers like the jackal-sized Hyaenictherium and perhaps even primates like Sahelanthropus.