Big Cat Noire Types of Big Cats : Genus “Panthera”
o perhaps we should start by clearing up a common mistake - there is no actual animal known as a ‘panther’. The term ‘panther’ is given to all large black cats (although some dictionaries may claim it is an alternate name for a black leopard, it is also used to refer to jaguars and other
large melanistic cats). The name is derived from the word ‘Panthera’, which is the genus or scientific grouping of species that is the big cat family. In the wild, cases of melanistic (black) leopards and jaguars are common in areas near the equator such as India and Brazil. In leopards, melanism is due to a recessive gene – two black leopards will produce black offspring. In jaguars, melanism is a dominant trait – two black jaguars can produce spotted or black offspring. Melanism occurs in 11 of the 37 cat species. Interestingly, melanistic leopards do appear to be relatively common on Malaysia’s peninsula. A recent photographic survey using game cameras tripped by infrared sensors snapped 100 images of leopards – all black.
An Unnatural History of Panthers