There is a misconception many people have with this majestic animal and think it is some other species of feline. the truth is that black panthers are nothing more than black coated jaguars and leopards depending on the continent they are at. what makes this black coat to appear is a genetic mutation in the ASP or the Melanocortin-1 gene that causes an excess of the black pigmentation called melanin. interesting enough this trait is also visible in domestic cats, but what is more interesting is that for jaguars, this trait is dominant, and for leopards is a recessive trait. this mutation is called melanism and is not exclusive to felines; this type of mutation has not yet been observed with the "cousins" of these panthers like lions or tigers but albinism has been observed. The black fur gives them a significant advantage at night making it more difficult for their prey to spot them, but scientists are concerned about the effects that might not be visible at plain sight; it is believed that they have more trouble controlling their body temperature and that they tend to be more aggressive than their nonmutated counterparts. It is also said that we don't have the total count of the number of black panthers that exist, and scientists are still investigating to get a better understanding of this mutation and its effects not only on panthers but on other species of animals that are also affected.
Very interesting post! I did not know that black panthers were actually black coated jaguars and leopards. I thought that they were their own type of cat. I was not aware that this coat color was a mutation. I wonder why tigers and lions have not shown melanism if their cousin cats have shown it. It would be interesting to see why these cats only display albinism instead of both mutations. I also wonder if jaguars and leopards display albinism as well.ReplyDelete