What is the difference between a jaguar and a black panther?

The difference between a jaguar and a black panther is superficial. They are exactly the same cat except the black panther is a melanistic version (charcoal black version with ghost spots) of the jaguar.

What I have just written is correct provided the person asking the question has in mind an alternative version of the jaguar when referring to a black panther. I say this because the term “black panther” is used generically to describe a melanistic puma (rarely), jaguar or leopard.

So we might be comparing the jaguar to a leopard or a puma. However, in my view the term “black panther” is most often used to refer to a black jaguar. The word “panther” derives from the “panthera” genus a classification of cats which includes the leopard and jaguar (but not the puma).

Black Panther Picture
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Black Panther Picture by Raphael Kugel

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Albert Schepis says:

    That is one strong looking cat.

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