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Description: The Leopard

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THE LEOPARD

30 January 2014

www.leopard.tv

The leopard Panthera pardus is one of the roaring cats of the family Felidae because it has an elastic hyoid ligament in the throat as opposed to an immovable one in the hissing cats. In the mythology of ancient Egypt, cats played a significant role to fight evil and had their own goddess, the cat-headed Mafdet, who is depicted in hieroglyphs with the head of a leopard or a cheetah.

The leopard is not well-known because of its secretive nature but is more abundant than what is generally believed. Pliny the Greek believed the leopard to be a cross between a lion and a panther, hence the Greek name leopardos which is derived from the Latin words leo (lion) and pardos (panther).

Modern cats are not descendants of sabre-toothed or other ancient cats but are a specialized branch of cat development. The roaring cats are believed to be the most recent of all the modern cats, having developed a little more than 2 million years ago. The earliest known ancestor of the roaring cat genus Panthera was Viretailurus schaubi, a large lynx-like cat which occurred 2.1 million years ago in the Rhône River Valley in France. The oldest known leopard fossils... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

References:

Bothma, J du P and C Walker 1999. Larger carnivores of the African savannas. Pretoria: J. L. van Schaik, pp. 60 - 91.

Grimbeek, A 1992. The ecology of the leopard (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg. MSc dissertation. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.

Malek, J. 1997. The cat in ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press.

Skinner, J D. and C Chimimba (Eds) 2005. The mammals of the South African subregion, third edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 585 - 590.

Sunquist, M and F Sunquist 2002. Wild cats of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 318 - 342.

Turner, A 1997. The big cats and their fossil relatives. New York: Columbia University Press.

article by: Prof J du P Bothma

 

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