Leopards are not the same as jaguars but similar. Officially, they are different species.
However, this is an interesting question. Desmond Morris in his book “Leopard” describes the jaguar as a species of leopard. He calls it the American leopard. At one time both jaguars and mountain lions were sometimes called ‘panthers’ as was the leopard, particularly the black leopard which is still named a black panther. There is confusion, therefore.
Dr Morris goes on to say that,
“like a cheetah, the American leopard, or American panther as it was known, has been given its local name of jaguar to avoid confusion with the true leopard.”
It can be difficult to distinguish a jaguar from a leopard at first glance. The Jaguar has a slightly heavier build. There are small black spots inside rosette markings. The markings are slightly different to those of a leopard. The interior spots are never seen on the coat of a leopard. The jaguar has the hardest bite of all the wild cats and therefore stronger than that of the leopard.
The Jaguar has a similar lifestyle to that of a leopard. However, the Jaguar lives in the Americas: South and Central America, and also Mexico whereas the leopard occupies large swathes of the African continent and all the way across to the Far East of Russia. They live in separate parts of the world.
Finally, the leopard is classified as a separate species to the jaguar. That said, the classification of the species is still in flux although somewhat settled. The classification of the species is called ‘taxonomy’. At one time judging by appearance alone there were more wild cat species that there are today, including more subspecies. DNA analysis has reduced the number of species.
Book ISBN: 978-1-78023-279-9