species fact the cat family wild cats

Species Facts: The Andes Mountain Cat

By the end of the twentieth century, all scientists had to prove that this cat wasn't a figment of their imagination were three skulls and less than forty museum specimens, each one at least sixty years old. Well, if the mountain won't come to you . . .

 

Not many facts about the Andean mountain cat are available.  It’s presently known to science as Leopardus jacobita.

This little feline resident of the Andes is so good at avoiding people that, even in 1998, only two sightings had been reported. (Johnson and others)

By the end of the twentieth century, all scientists had to prove that this cat wasn’t a figment of their imagination were three skulls and less than forty museum specimens, each one at least sixty years old. (Johnson and others)

By 2002, things hadn’t changed much. Experts reported that the only proof of the Andean mountain cat’s existence was the occasional pelt appearing in local fur markets. (Sunquist and Sunquist)

Now, with the help of technology, the Internet, and many devoted scientists willing to do what it takes to get up into the mountain cat’s home ground, this has happened!


Only one question remains: What did they put in that bait?


Featured image: Jim Sanderson. CC BY-SA 3.0.


Sources:
Johnson, W. E.; Culver, M.; Iriarte, J.A.; Eizirik, E.; and others. 1998. Tracking the evolution of the elusive Andean mountain cat (Oreailurus jacobita) from mitochondrial DNA. The Journal of Heredity. 89(3): 227-232.

Sunquist, M. and Sunquist, F. 2002. Wild cats of the world. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

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About BJ Deming

After getting an associate's degree in forestry, I studied geology as an undergraduate back in the 1980s but went into medical transcription instead. It just worked out better for me. The Internet renewed my interest in geoscience as a hobby, and when I retired in 2014, I decided to write a book about cat evolution. That started a new career for me (enormous fun but not self-supporting yet). Right now, besides blogging I am finishing up the first two books in a self-published ebook series about the cat family and its history. Thanks for your interest!

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