The American Lion is thought to be the largest cat that ever lived! Also known as Felis Atrox, it is a relative of the African Lion (Panthera leo) and maybe a subspecies. The name Panthera means “Panther”, (Leo) “Lion”, and Atrox “frightful”; so- “Frightful Panther or Lion”. This giant of all cats was larger than an African Lion, 5 feet (1.7M) tall and 11.5 feet (3.5M) in length from nose to tail and weighing about 700-800 lbs. It ranged from Alaska to the middle of South America.
In North America, this Ice Age Cat dated as far back as 350,000 years ago, and went extinct about 13,000 years ago. And in Florida, this Ancient Lion arrived around 70,000 years ago in the late Pleistocene Period and is considered extremely rare. They seemed to have been distributed in Northern Florida and not in Southern Florida. A complete skull with lower jaws was discovered in Columbia County, Florida. It is more uncommon than Smilodon fossils here and the bones are much larger.