THE JOURNAL OF THE JAGUARS, PANTHERA ONCA
the untold story of Earth's third largest feline
major: Pre-ap biology
The jaguar is the third-largest of the world's four species of big cats. These big cats are members of the Felidae family where other cats such as leopards, cougars, lions belong. The jaguar's scientific name is Panthera onca. Once widespread across North America from coast to coast, the jaguar is now occasionally seen in the United States. The cat can be found in Mexico and Central and South America and prefers dense rainforests where it can hide from its only predator, humans. Humans have been proven a threat to the species. The population of jaguars are threatened for reasons that poachers are killing them for their fur, loss of habitat due to deforestation, and to protect livestock— all consequences to jaguars from the damage of human activities. As defense, jaguars attack humans rarely but they are known to stalk people as a way to escorting them out of their territories.
On that note, jaguars are silent apex predators. Jaguars can prey on a wide range of animals, from climbing trees where they attack monkeys or on the ground where they crush animals as small as snakes, rats, or turtles. Which isn't much of a shock because according to "Jaguars" by Vicky Franchino, "Jaguars are muscular animals with powerful jaws, legs and broad, rounded feet, making them silent stalkers and expert climbers, leapers, and swimmers." With plentiful of prey to devour, Jaguars have developed massive skulls and powerful canine teeth and jaws.
The jaguar's coloration provides camouflage, especially in rainforest habitats where the jaguars dense spots blend with the forest's environment. Jaguars vary in color from golden yellow to reddish-brownish and have black rosettes on its fur. The jaguars are commonly mistaken for leopards or cheetahs due to the similarly spotted species. The jaguar coats' camouflage makes these species' invisible day and night in the rainforest, making jaguars deadly hunters.
THE JAGUAR PAST AND PRESENT
THE ANTECEDENTS OF JAGUAR
The jaguar, Panthera onca, is member of the Felidae family and is closely related to lions, tigers, and leopards. However, jaguars are from a completely different linage from those big cats. The Panthera onca augusta, an extinct species, was one of the early Jaguars, and they were fairly larger than the rest of its descendants. According to "The Jaguar: Help Save This Endangered Species!" by Stephan Feinstein, "... Modern jaguar's ancestral roots have appeared in Americas where fossils have been found dating back 2 million years... Scientists also believe that the ancestors of modern jaguar [ Panthera onca augusta] first came to the Americas about 2 million years ago." By that time the jaguar had differentiated from the other species of Panthera, such as lions (Panthera leo) and leopard (Panthera pardus).
The Panthera onca and the Panthera onca...