Smilodon fatalis is primarily known from the fossils in the La Brea tar pits, in Los Angeles, California. The pits are natural sources of asphalt that trap many animals and are usually dominated by fossils of predators. It is thought that the struggles and cries of a prey species that fell into the tar and were trapped would attract predators. The predators would themselves become trapped when they attempted to attack the trapped prey. Predators such as Smilodon were trapped while trying to prey on the already trapped animals. Other predators known form the surrounding environment include dire wolves, the short faced bear, the American lion, and the Scimitar cat. These animals would have been preying on the local fauna such as mastodon, mammoths, deer, American horse, large sloths, and other similar herbivores. The fossils in the pit have been dated back to 38,000 years ago.