Guest Videos: “Small” Cats of the American Tropics: The Puma

No way — this is a panther, a mountain lion!

It is large; those fangs are very impressive; but, I’m sorry, way.

The boffins first put big cats (jargon alert) into the taxon Pantherinae because:

  1. Most of them roar (let’s not get into the clouded leopard “bridge” just now)
  2. They cannot purr (maybe; it’s iffy)

This rather arbitrary classification separated big cats from all of the “purring cats,” even before molecular testing became possible.

Field work by One-Armed Sally supported the hypothesis, too.

Eventually, DNA studies provided objective evidence to back up this separation of Family Felidae into Pantherinae and Felinae.

Those last two links each lead to a veeery long family tree. Taxonomists really mean business — and they wish they could do the same for the third group, too.

Anyway, lab work confirms that Puma concolor is not a pantherine, no matter what nicknames we might give it.

Scientists have proposed a number of detailed cat family trees — here is one of the most popular models.

No consensus exists yet on exactly how the whole Felidae family evolved, as far as I know (which isn’t far), but there apparently is no denying that pumas are most closely related to our recent tropical small cat friend, the jaguarundi.

That’s very easy to believe when you look at (in order) Puma yagouaroundi and P. concolor at the start of this trail-cam video (one more walkthrough — I think by an ocelot — happens at around 5:09):

You might need to watch it on YouTube to see the names via closed captions.

I think the puma in that video is darker than its North American relations because of Gloger’s rule. Per these researchers, melanistic pumas have not yet been documented.

More information:

“Both? None of the above? We’re not telling!” — The cats. (Image: Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock)

Well, that does it for the tropical cats series, which we began to balance out the “Big cats in snow” post back in October (there was one last February, too).

Next, perhaps —

How many living and extinct cat species routinely deal with snow, anyway?


Meanwhile, in Florida…

More information

Featured image: Waldemar Manfred Seehagen/Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.