Leopard + Jaguar shared ancestry December 14, 2005 8:54 AM
Cool graphics Kuba - an easy to follow comparison of the two spotted cats.
To add to the intriguing relationship between the Jaguar and the Leopard, I've lifted an extract from one of my leopard blogs, which basically describes the evolutionary relationship between the two big cats:
"What is often forgotten in the evolutionary tale of the leopard is the close relationship it shared with a now distant cousin, the jaguar. Both big cats survived and continued to evolve, side by side, in Eurasia. From there, the jaguar pushed southwards into Africa, crossing the Bering Land Bridge into early North America. As the continents drifted, and the bridge retreated beneath the waves, the cousins became separated forever, leaving the leopard to roam the vast kingdoms of Eurasia and Africa alone. Throughout most of its range, the leopard soon retreated to the cover of the trees, out-manoeuvred on the plains by the lion and the tiger. Taking on an almost arboreal way of life, it lost its bulk, and became an agile climber, relying on stealth and cunning to catch its prey."
To further add to this: ' the jaguar's ancestors moved south into Central America, feeding on the deer and other grazing animals that once covered the landscape in huge herds.
Climate changes, however, eventually wiped out the grazing herds and favoured other animals, such as land tortoises and aquatic turtles. Some scientists believe the jaguar adapted to the change by developing the massive head and powerful, thick-toothed jaws capable of easily cracking open these well-armored animals. Somewhere along the way, the jaguar also lost its throaty, bone-shaking cry for a deep, guttural growl, making it the only big cat without a roar. Scientists aren't sure why that is, but it may be that a roar - useful for communicating on wide-open desert plains - isn't very useful in the sound-muffling foliage of tropical forests.
Even without a roar, however, the jaguar, which can grow to be 250 pounds is a terrifying hunter. Indeed, its name comes from an ancient native word that means "wild beast that captures its prey in a single bound."
So there you go - two formidable cousins - perfectly adapted to their distinct environments and prey species...
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"Similar to leopards in color and average weight, jaguars differ from them in build: they have shorter, thicker legs, and larger feet; shorter backs, and larger heads, with stouter canine teeth. The largest jaguars are much heavier than leopards, but sometimes smaller in linear size. The aura of a jaguar is of great power, not speed or graceful beauty; a heavyweight wrestler rather than a runner."
"Panthera gombaszoegensis (P onca
gombaszoegensis), the European Jaguar, was present around 1.6 million
years ago and was larger than early American jaguars, probably hunting
larger prey. They ranged across Italy, England, Germany, Spain, and
France. Although currently given its own classification, P toscana, the
Tuscany Lion (aka Tuscany Jaguar), may turn out to be a synonym for P
gombaszoegensis. A form similar to P gombaszoegensis has been found
dating from early Pleistocene East Africa and had both lion- and
A fossilized mandible of European Jaguar recently found in France
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December 14, 2005 1:33 PM
Thanks guys, I love reading this : )) I've lost where it is now, but remember reading about the leopard's adaptability: they go into places no other big cats do, even in the cities, and disappear again, kind of an amazing "ghostlike" quality, superstealthy anyway. Unfortunately for the same reason they were considered to be especially big prizes for hunters *grrrrr* but are doing better than most big cats now because of their adaptability.
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