Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Alrite, just thought I'd be a wise old man today by sharing some "general knowledge" that perhaps the general public wasn't really sure about - "Big Cats". (If you already know, move on...)
I suppose Tigers and Lions are pretty much "as defined", so I'll skip that. But what about names like the Leopard, Jaguar, Puma, Cougar, Panthers and what have you? Can't tell the difference? You will, after this post...



Well, there are in fact 2 methods:

Method 1:
Take a look at the 2 pictures above again, you will notice that those "black spots" actually make up "rings"... Jaguars have bigger "rings" and more importantly, there is another "black spot" inside each "ring". Leopards do not have that black spot inside.

Method 2:
You probably do not ever want to find yourself in the situation to use this method. Not referring to seeing them in Zoo exclosures, if you find yourself face-to-face with one of these big kitties, just remember - Leopards in the East and Jaguars in the West - if you have the time to think, that is.

Leopards are found in: Africa South of the Sahara, South Asia, North Africa, Arabia and the Far East -- the continents in the East.

Jaguars are found in: Central Mexico through Central America to Northern Argentina -- the continents in the West.

Well, I reckon many of you are familiar with the mascot below and that oh-so-catchy tune... Just how does a Panther look like?
In fact, confusion has always arise from the distinction with the use of the term "Panther". The scientific name for the Leopard is "Panthera Pardus", while the Jaguar is "Panthera Onca". Both big cats stem from the genus "Panthera".

"Panther" is commonly used to refer to "Cougar" in the North America (We'll come to that later). But in Latin America, it is most often used to refer to Jaguar, and elsewhere as Leopard.

So the bottomline is, the term "Panther" is merely a generic term to refer to the long-tailed versions of the big kitties. And depending on which area the animal is located, the well-informed will know if its a Leopard, or a Jaguar.

What about Black Panthers? I compiled a couple of hard facts to explain this beautiful species:

a) A Black Panther is a black melanistic colour variant of the "Panther" - either Leopard or Jaguar (so there are Black Leopards or Black Jaguars, depending on where they are found).

b) Melanism is most common in the Jaguar, where it is carried by a dominant allele, and the leopard, where it is due to a recessive allele.

c) Melanism is an increased amount of black pigmentation of the skin/feather/hair of an organism, due to the presence of melanin (as opposed to Albanism, which is the lack of melanin pigment, and Leucism, which is a reduction is all types of skin pigment).

d) Black Jaguars can produce black or spotted cubs, but a pair of spotted jaguars will only produce spotted cubs. Contrastingly, spotted Leopards can produce black cubs if both parents carry the recessive allele.

Cougars are found in the South-West Canada, Western U.S., and Florida, and ranging south through Central and South America.

Well, basically they have no spots... and they look like what's in the picture above. Simple.

Oh, did I mention that its scientific name is PUMA CONCOLOR?

No comments: