We can see that this is a leopard and not a jaguar as the leopard is slenderer than the stockier jaguar. They melanistic jaguars look amazing. I don’t know where it was taken. It could be one of many countries as the common leopard has the widest distribution of all the wild cat species.
The effect of the mutated gene that causes melanism varies. Sometimes the cat is almost jet black and sometimes we see the amazing dark pattern and silver background as in the picture.
Click on the picture to see it larger if you want to. It deserves a larger size. I don’t who took the photograph. I wish I did. It is published on Twitter.
If you want to read about melanism please click on this link. It’ll take you to a full discussion.
Melanism is caused by the inheritance of a mutated gene which changes the development of the cat’s coat causing it to be much darker because there is much more pigment in the coat and the pigment is called ‘melanin’ hence the name.
Many cat species can be melanistic – have very dark coats completely different to their usual coat which is usually a variation of dark spots/lines against a light yellowish background.
The opposite of melanistic cats is white cats. Another mutation. And sometimes we see albino cats which are not the same as white cats even if the coat does look the same.
The occurrence of black leopards varies according to the location and therefore habitat:
|Location||Level of occurrence of black leopards|
|Java and Malaysia||Estimated half of the leopards are black. Although surprisingly I couldn’t find a black leopard picture from this region.|
‘Black panthers’ are melanistic leopards, jaguars and pumas. The phrase most often refers to melanistic leopards and jaguars. The word ‘panther’ is generic meaning large cat. You’ll tigers with thick dark stripes which makes them look a bit like black panthers but they are not. They are pseudo-black panthers.
Some more on melanism
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