[Daily article] January 3: Smilodon

Smilodon, the saber-toothed tiger, is an extinct genus that lived in the
Americas up to 2.5 million years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch. It
was named in 1842 and identified by fossils from Brazil. The largest
collection of its fossils has come from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los
Angeles, California. The species S. gracilis and S. fatalis lived
mostly in North America. A third species, the South American
S. populator (meaning destroyer), was perhaps the largest known member
of the family of cats, at 220 to 400 kg (490 to 880 lb) and 120 cm
(47 in) in height. Overall, saber-toothed tigers were stronger than any
modern cat, with well-developed forelimbs, big jaws, and long, slender
upper canines, adapted for precision killing. In North America, they
hunted large herbivores such as bison and camels, pinning their prey
before biting it. They probably lived in habitats that provided cover
for ambushing prey, such as forests and shrubland. They died out at the
same time that most North and South American megafauna disappeared,
during a period of climate change about 10,000 years ago.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1749:

The first issue of Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest continually
operating newspaper, was published.

1777:

American Revolutionary War: American forces under General
George Washington defeated British troops at the Battle of Princeton.

1911:

A gun battle in the East End of London left two dead and
sparked a political row over the involvement of then-Home Secretary
Winston Churchill (pictured).

1911:

A 7.7 Mw earthquake destroyed the city of Almaty in Russian
Turkestan.

2002:

Israeli forces seized the MV Karine A, which was carrying 50
tons of weapons being smuggled in on behalf of the Palestinian
Authority.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

narcokleptocracy:
1. (rare) Drug lords and others involved in organized crime as a dominant
group in society; the influence or rule exerted by this group.
2. (rare) A government influenced by such persons; a narcocracy.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of
universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by
its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.  
–Cicero

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