Top Ten Big Cats

Top Ten Big Cats

  1. African Lion (Panthera leo)

    The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia with an endangered remnant population in Gir Forest National Park in India, having disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. They were found in most of Africa, across Eurasia from Western Europe to India, and in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru. The lion is a vulnerable species, having seen a possibly irreversible population decline of 30 to 50% over the past two decades in its African range. Lion populations are untenable outside designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of concern. Lions live for 10 to 14 years in the wild, while in captivity they can live longer than 20 years. In the wild, males seldom live longer than 10 years, as injuries sustained from continual fighting with rival males greatly reduce their longevity. Lions are unusually social compared to other cats. A pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lions are apex and keystone predators, although they scavenge as opportunity allows. Highly distinctive, the male lion is easily recognized by its mane, and its face is one of the most widely recognized animal symbols in human culture. Depictions have existed from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves, through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they once occurred. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos the world over since the late 18th century.
    Links: Top Ten Fastest Animals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_lion,
  2. Tiger (Panthera tigris)

    The tiger, a member of the Felidae family, is the largest of the four “big cats” in the genus Panthera. The tiger is native to much of eastern and southern Asia, and is an apex predator and an obligate carnivore. The larger tiger subspecies are comparable in size to the biggest extinct felids, reaching up to 3.3 meters (11 ft) in total length, weighing up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds), and having canines up to 4 inches (100 mm) long. Aside from their great bulk and power, their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes that overlays near-white to reddish-orange fur, with lighter underparts. The most numerous tiger subspecies is the Bengal tiger, while the largest is the Siberian tiger. Tigers have a lifespan of 10–15 years in the wild, but can live longer than 20 years in captivity. They are highly adaptable and range from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps. They are territorial and generally solitary animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey demands. This, coupled with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans. Three of the nine subspecies of modern tiger have gone extinct, and the remaining six are classified as endangered, some critically so. The primary direct causes are habitat destruction, fragmentation and hunting. Historically, tigers have existed from Mesopotamia and the Caucasus throughout most of South and East Asia. Today, the range of the species is radically reduced. All surviving species are under formal protection, yet poaching, habitat destruction, and inbreeding depression continue to threaten the tigers. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continue to be depicted in modern films and literature. Tigers appear on many flags and coats of arms, as mascots for sporting teams, and as the national animal of several Asian nations, including India.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger,
  3. Cheetah

           The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a large-sized feline (family Felidae) inhabiting most of Africa and parts of the Middle East. The cheetah is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx, most notable for modifications in the species’ paws. As such, it is the only felid with non-retractable claws and pads that, by their scope, disallow gripping (therefore cheetah cannot climb vertical trees, although they are generally capable of reaching easily accessible branches). The cheetah, however, achieves by far the fastest land speed of any living animal, between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m (1,600 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to over 100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds.
    Links: Top Ten Fastest Animals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheetah,
  4. Clouded Leopard

    The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a felid found from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China, and has been classified as vulnerable in 2008 by IUCN. Its total population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend and no single population numbering more than 1,000 adults.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clouded_Leopard,
  5. Jaguar

    The jaguar is a big cat, a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The jaguar is the 3rd largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar’s present range extends from the Southern U.S. and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona (southeast of Tucson), the cat has largely been extirpated from the U.S. since the early 20th century. This spotted cat most closely resembles the leopard physically, although it is usually larger and of sturdier build and it’s behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger. While dense rainforest is its preferred habitat, the jaguar will range across a variety of forested and open terrain. It is strongly associated with the presence of water and is notable, along with the tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming. The jaguar is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain (an apex predator). It is a keystone species, playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of the animals it hunts. The jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats. This allows it to pierce the shells of armored reptiles and to employ an unusual killing method: it bites directly through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain. The jaguar is a near threatened species and its numbers are declining. Threats include habitat loss and fragmentation. While international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range remains large; given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including that of the Maya and Aztec.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar,
  6. Panther

    A black panther is typically a melanistic color variant of any of several species of larger cat. Wild black panthers in Latin America are black jaguars (Panthera onca), in Asia and Africa they are black leopards (Panthera pardus), and in North America they may be black jaguars or possibly black cougars (Puma concolor, although this has not been proven to have a black variant), or smaller cats. Black panthers are also reported as cryptids in areas such as the U.S., the UK and Australia, and if these do exist, their species is not known. Captive black panthers may be black jaguars, or more commonly black leopards. Black panthers have sometimes been regarded as forming different species from their normally-colored relatives. The name “panther” is often limited to the black variants of the species, but also commonly refers to those that are normally-colored (tawny or spotted), or to white color variants: white panthers.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_panther,
  7. Snow Leopard

    The snow leopard (Uncia uncia or Panthera uncia) is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of South Asia and Central Asia. Snow leopards live between 3,000 and 5,500 meters (9,800 and 18,000 ft) above sea level in the rocky mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. Their secretive nature means that their exact numbers are unknown, but it has been estimated that between 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards exist in the wild and between 600 and 700 in zoos worldwide. Snow leopards are smaller than the other big cats but, like them, exhibit a range of sizes, generally weighing between 27 and 55 kilograms (60 and 120 lb). Body length ranges from 75 to 130 centimeters (30 to 50 in), with the tail adding an additional 75 to 90% of that length. These cats stand about 60 cm (24 in) at the shoulder. Snow leopards have long thick fur, and their base color varies from smoky gray to yellowish tan, with whitish underparts. They have dark gray to black open rosettes on their body with small spots of the same color on their heads and larger spots on their legs and tail. Unusually among cats, their eyes are pale green or gray in color. Snow leopards show several adaptations for living in a cold mountainous environment. Their bodies are stocky, their fur is thick, and their ears are small and rounded, all of which help to minimize heat loss. Their paws are wide, which distributes their weight better for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase their grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it also helps to minimize heat loss. Snow leopards’ tails are long and flexible, helping them to maintain their balance, which is very important in the rocky terrain they inhabit. Their tails are also very thick due to storage of fats and are very thickly covered with fur which allows them to be used like a blanket to protect their faces when asleep. The snow leopard has a short muzzle and domed forehead, containing unusual large nasal cavities that help the animal breathe the thin, cold air of their mountainous environment. Snow leopards cannot roar, despite possessing some ossification of the hyoid bone.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_leopard,
  8. Cougar

    The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as puma, mountain lion, mountain cat, catamount or panther, depending on the region, is a mammal of the family Felidae, native to the Americas. This large, solitary cat has the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in every major American habitat type. It is the second heaviest cat in the Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar. A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey, including ungulates such as deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can also live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and persists at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation and abundance of prey. While it is a large predator, it is not always the dominant species in its range, as when it competes for prey with other predators such as the jaguar, grey wolf, American Black Bear and the grizzly bear. Due to excessive hunting following the European colonization of the Americas and the continuing human development of cougar habitat, populations have dropped in most parts of its historical range. In particular, the cougar was extirpated in eastern North America in the beginning of the 20th century, except for an isolated sub-population in Florida. However, in recent decades, breeding populations have moved east into the far western parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar,
  9. Lynx  and Bobcat (Lynx Rufus) 


    A lynx is any of the four Lynx genus species of medium-sized wildcats. The name “lynx” originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek, which was derived from the Indo-European root “leuk-,” meaning “light, brightness,” in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes. There is considerable confusion about the best way to classify felids at present, and some authorities classify them as part of the genus Felis. The caracal, despite sometimes being called Persian lynx or African lynx, does not belong to this genus. The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) or Canadian lynx is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. It is a close relative of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx). However, in some characteristics the Canada lynx is more like the bobcat (Lynx rufus) than the Eurasian Lynx. With the recognized subspecies, it ranges across Canada and into Alaska as well as some parts of the northern United States. With a dense silvery-brown coat, ruffed face and tufted ears, the Canada lynx resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is larger than the bobcat, with which it shares parts of its range, and over twice the size of the domestic cat. The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago (AEO). With 12 recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental US. The bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, forest edges, and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range and populations are healthy. With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller on average than the Canada lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name. Though the bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces. The bobcat breeds from winter into spring and has a gestation period of about two months. Although bobcats have been hunted extensively by humans, both for sport and fur, their population has proven resilient. The elusive predator features in Native American mythology and the folklore of European settlers.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynxhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcathttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_lynx,
  10. Hyena

    Hyenas are the 4th smallest biological family in the Carnivora (consisting of four species), and one of the smallest in the mammalia. Despite their low diversity, hyenas are unique and vital components to most African and some Asian ecosystems. Although phylogenetically close to felines and viverrids, hyenas are behaviourally and morphologically similar to canines in several aspects; both hyenas and canines are non-arboreal, cursorial hunters that catch prey with their teeth rather than claws. Both eat food quickly and may store it, and their calloused feet with large, blunt, non-retractable nails are adapted for running and making sharp turns. However, the hyenas’ grooming, scent marking, defecating habits, mating and parental behavior are consistent with the behavior of other feliforms. Although long reputed to be cowardly scavengers, hyenas, especially spotted hyenas, kill as much as 95% of the food they eat, and have been known to drive off leopards or lionesses from their kills. Hyenas are primarily nocturnal animals, but may venture from their lairs in the early morning hours. With the exception of the highly social spotted hyena, hyenas are generally not gregarious animals, though they may live in family groups and congregate at kills. Hyenas first arose in Eurasia during the Miocene period from viverrid-like ancestors, and developed into two distinct branches; the lightly built dog-like hyenas and the robust bone-crushing hyenas. Although the dog-like hyenas thrived 15 million years ago (with one taxon having colonized North America), they died out after a change in climate along with the arrival of canids into Eurasia. Of the dog-like hyena lineage, only the insectivorous aardwolf survived, while the bone-crushing hyenas (whose extant members are the spotted, brown and striped hyena) became the undisputed top scavengers of Eurasia and Africa. Hyenas are mostly viewed with fear and contempt, as well as being associated with witchcraft, as their body parts are used as ingredients in traditional medicine. Among the beliefs held by some cultures, hyenas are thought to influence people’s spirits, rob graves, and steal livestock and children.
    Links: Top Ten Canines, Top Ten Mosaics, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyena,
  11. Cave Lion

    The American lion (Panthera leo atrox or P. atrox), also known as the North American lion, Naegele’s giant jaguar or American cave lion, is an extinct lion of the family Felidae, endemic to North America and northwestern South America during the Pleistocene epoch (0.34 mya to 11,000 years ago), existing for approximately 0.33 million years. It has been shown by genetic analysis to be a sister lineage to the Eurasian cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea or P. spelaea). The American lion is one of the largest types of cat ever to have existed, slightly larger than the Early Middle Pleistocene primitive cave lion, P. leo fossilis and about 25% larger than the modern African lion.
    Links: Top Ten Predators, Cave Paintings, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_lion,
  12. Saber-Tooth Tiger

    A saber-toothed tiger, is any of various groups of predatory mammals related to modern cats, characterized by long, sabre-shaped canine teeth. These animals belonged to subfamilies of Machairodontinae (Felidae), Barbourofelidae and Nimravidae (both Feliformia) as well as two families related to marsupials that were found worldwide from the Eocene Epoch to the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (42 mya—11,000 years ago), existing for approximately 42 million years. The large maxillary canine teeth extended from the mouth even when it was closed. Despite the name, not all animals known as saber-toothed cats were closely related to modern felines. The Nimravidae are the oldest, entering the landscape around 42 mya and becoming extinct by 7.2 mya. Barbourofelidae entered around 16.9 mya and were extinct by 9 mya. These two would have shared some habitats.
    Links: Top Ten Extinct Animals, Top Ten Skulls, Top Ten Human Skulls, Top Ten Skull Artifacts,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saber-toothed_cat,
  13. Liger and Tion
    Liger-BCR-FrecklesDenJulieHananCropped
           The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a tigress (Panthera tigris). Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. It is distinct from the similar hybrid tiglon. It is the largest of all known extant felines. Ligers enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions. Ligers exist only in captivity because the habitats of the parental species do not overlap in the wild. Historically, when the Asiatic Lion was prolific, the territories of lions and tigers did overlap and there are legends of ligers existing in the wild. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike tiglons which tend to be about as large as a female tiger. A tiglon  is a sterile hybrid cross between a male tiger (Panthera tigris) and a lioness (Panthera leo). Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. The tiglon is not currently as common as the converse hybrid, the liger; however, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Gerard Iles wrote that he had been able to obtain three tiglons, but he had never seen a liger.
    Links: Top Ten Hybrid Animals, Top Ten Hybrid Carshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liger,
  14. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

           The ocelot also known as the dwarf leopard or McKenney’s wildcat, is a wild cat distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Texas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. North of Mexico, it is found regularly only in the extreme southern part of Texas, although there are rare sightings in Southern Arizona. The ocelot is similar in appearance to a domestic cat. Its fur resembles that of a clouded leopard or jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of ocelots were once killed for their fur.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocelot,
  15. Links: Animals, Top 100 Animals, Top Ten Deadliest AnimalsMammals, National Parks, Top Ten Nature Documentaries,

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