Table of contents:
- Origin of the Cat family
- Where they live
- What is the difference between a cheetah and a leopard
The cat family is one of the largest groups of animals in the world, it consists of several genera. Specialists, in turn, divide all wild cats into large and small. In total, about 35 species of these mammals are known to science.
In this article we will look at the most popular representatives of the Feline family. Find out where cougars, panthers and other wild cats live.
Origin of the Cat family
It is authentically known that the first wild cats appeared on the planet during the Miocene. The first species of the cat family, Proailurus, lived on the territory of modern Asia and Europe. It was from him that all other varieties of these animals subsequently descended. This ancient mammal had an elongated body, small paws and a very long tail. The main weapon of this predator was its sharp teeth and claws.
Scientists believe that proailurus is the ancestor of a more modern animal - pseudolurus, which lived on Earth about 20 million years ago. He had a more typical appearance for the cat family and was found not only in Europe and Asia, but also in North America.This predator had a flexible slender body and powerful muscular paws. Pseudalurus spent most of his life in trees.
Later, about 2.5 million years ago, smilodons appeared, which scientists also attribute to ancient wild cats. In color, these animals looked like a modern snow leopard.
Where they live
Wild felines are found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. They live on all islands except New Guinea, Greenland and Madagascar.
Most varieties of these predators prefer to live in the tropical and subtropical climate zone. However, some species are also found in temperate climates. The list of the Feline family includes the following animals:
- Amur tiger;
- forest cat;
- Far Eastern cat.
It is noteworthy that although the cat family is one of the largest groups, the population of large species is increasingly declining. This is due to widespread poaching. Interestingly, in primitive times, ancient people also preferred to hunt large wild cats. This also had a certain impact on the future number of predators.
What is the difference between a cheetah and a leopard
One of the most noticeable differences between these wild cats is in their heads. Cheetahs have so-called lacrimal streaks located on the muzzle. Leopards don't. The second difference visible to the naked eyeis the color of the skin. The body of the leopard is covered with spots, collected in rosettes, with a dark background inside. The skin of a cheetah is dotted with distinct black spots, without any ring patterns.
If you look at the anatomical structure, you can see that the leopard is larger. Often these animals have a fatty layer, which is due to a passive lifestyle. The maximum weight of this animal reaches 70 kilograms, it grows up to 250 centimeters in length. The cheetah has a slender, muscular body. He has no body fat. An adult reaches 140 centimeters in length and can weigh up to 50 kilograms.
The list of the feline family continues with the jaguar. It is the largest predator living in the United States of America. The jaguar, the description of the animal emphasizes this, is beautiful and graceful. The size of adults is quite impressive. Their weight can reach 160 kilograms. The jaguar is the third largest wild cat in the world, second only to the tiger and lion.
This mammal looks like a leopard. It has a similar color, but is much larger in size. The jaguar has rounded ears on its head. The color of animals can vary from rich red to sand tones.
Jaguar is the most colorful animal in Central and South America. Unfortunately, its population is rapidly declining due to regular hunting. In this regard, the habitat of the jaguar has significantly decreased.
This wild catconsidered the largest member of the cat family. Tigers can weigh up to three hundred kilograms. The length of the largest specimens recorded by scientists exceeded 3 meters. However, the dimensions may vary depending on the variety. The largest are the Bengal and Amur tigers.
Predator has a flexible strong body. The tiger is practically the only one in its family who is able to distinguish colors. The animal has acute hearing and an excellent sense of smell. Thanks to these features, it can capture even the faintest odor at very long distances. This makes the tiger one of the most dangerous predators in the world.
The skin of a tiger comes in several colors: brown, white and yellow. Traditional vertical stripes are drawn on it. The length of the coat depends on the habitat. The southern varieties have a sparse and shorter cover. The wool of northern specimens is denser and longer.
The lion belongs to the cat family. He is rightfully considered the king of beasts. This predator is inferior in size only to some varieties of tigers. The diet of these formidable mammals depends on the habitat. But all of them prey mainly on large herbivores. African lions often prey on zebras, buffaloes and antelopes. Individuals living in Asia prey on wild boars and deer.
Lions are social animals. They unite in small groups, which include several females and one leader male. It is noteworthy that food production falls entirely onshoulders of females. The males themselves rarely hunt.
Each pride has its own clear territory, its protection and protection is carried out by the leader.
The list of the cat family continues with one of the most mysterious predatory animals. For a long time, the panther was considered a separate species. Later, scientists found that this animal is not one, but several species of wild cats, which have a high content of black pigment in their coat and skin.
The origin of panthers is still controversial. Some experts are convinced that the black color is caused by genetic abnormalities. Others suggest that this color of the skin is due to life in impenetrable forests. In such places, twilight always reigns, since sunlight practically does not get there.
Black panthers include the following predators:
Panther is not a separate species, but a whole genus, united by genetic changes. This feature is called melanism. It is noteworthy that it is inherent in almost all existing animals. In nature, there are even black foxes, which are called silver foxes. At the same time, the skin only looks homogeneous from afar. For example, on the body of a black tiger, upon closer examination, stripes will be visible, and on a leopard, spots.
Finishing the list of the feline family is a graceful animal that combines power and beauty. The scientific name of this animal is Puma concolor, which translates toas "puma one-color".
The first detailed description of this graceful animal was compiled in the early 16th century. It is noteworthy that since then, interest in the cougar has not faded. Scientists have repeatedly made attempts to tame this predator, but they did not end very well.
The very name "puma" is not the only one in this animal. In different parts of the world, it is also called a mountain lion and a cougar. The puma is one of the largest wild cats. It is second only to the tiger, lion and jaguar. The body of this male can reach a length of 180 centimeters, and weight - 100 kg. At the same time, the female is approximately 30% smaller.
The animal lives in the United States of America. Moreover, the color of its coat depends on the place. In the northern regions, the body of the cougar is painted in gray tones, and in the southern regions, in red.