LAS VEGAS, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Paleontologists working near Las Vegas say they've made an important and rare fossil find, the bones of a saber-tooth cat.
"I hate to say we hit the jackpot, this being Vegas -- but we did!" Eric Scott, curator of paleontology at the San Bernardino County Museum in California, told the Highland (Calif.) News.
"Meat-eaters are generally uncommon in the fossil record. This makes fossil remains of extinct carnivores very rare and special -- and very tough to find."
Saber-toothed cats, so named for their iconic long canine teeth, became extinct near the end of the Pleistocene Epoch some 11,000 years ago.
The fossil of the ambush predators unearthed by the San Bernardino County Museum researchers are thought to by more 15,000 years old, LiveScience.com reported Monday.
While teeth and bones of mammoths, camels, horses and bison have been found in considerable number in southern Nevada, little evidence of the saber-toothed cats that would have preyed on them has been found before, researchers said.
"We're ecstatic," Kathleen Springer, senior curator for museum, told the Highland News. "We've been saying for years that these critters were out here, somewhere. It was just a matter of time until we found one."