Palaeontologists from The National Museum of Natural Science were able to identify the species from fossilised remains that were found in 2007 at the Príncipe Pío-2 site near Madrid City in Spain.
The unearthed remains of the feline species named Magerifelis peignei included a well-preserved patrial jaw bone, which the researchers believed the animal used to suffocate its prey. They've also revealed that it is a member of the subgroup of small cats with similar predatory behaviour, much like the Iberian lynx.
The findings were published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology last week.
Scientists wrote: “The specimen is very well preserved, showing the complete hemimandible, as well as all the teeth except the incisors.
“The specimen is in such an excellent state of preservation, with almost all the dentition and mandibular structures present, that it constitutes one of the most complete known fossils of early felines up to date."
Close examination of the newly discovered feline species revealed it lived in the Middle Miocene ere around 15.5 million years ago and was slightly different from other cats existing at the time. It had a relatively tiny lower second molar (m2) and a tooth absent, but the researchers believed it had a “strong bite” it used to hunt “relatively larger prey”.
They wrote: "These characters suggest that the Príncipe Pío-2 feline could have preyed upon relatively larger prey than those of extant, similarly sized felines."