The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the mountain lion, puma, panther, mountain cat, or catamount, is a large cat of the family Felidae native to the Americas.
Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in most American habitat types. It is the second heaviest cat in the New World, after the jaguar.
Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although sightings during daylight hours do occur.
The cougar is more closely related to smaller felines, including the domestic cat (subfamily Felinae), than to any subspecies of lion (subfamily Pantherinae).
An excellent stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include 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.
It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but can also live in open areas.
The cougar is territorial and survives at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey.
While large, it is not always the apex predator in its range, yielding to the jaguar, gray wolf, American black bear, and grizzly bear. It is reclusive and mostly avoids people.
Fatal attacks on humans are rare, but have been trending upward in recent years as more people enter their territory.
The sabre-toothed cat or tiger is one of the most well-known prehistoric animals along with giants such as the woolly mammoth.
Sabre-toothed tigers roamed the mid-western United States and parts of both North and South America and were named for the enormous canines which skeletons show, protruded quite far out of their mouths.
It became extinct during the latter stages of the ice age. Despite the name, the sabre-toothed tiger was not actually related to the modern tigers that are found throughout the jungles of Asia.
It is thought that the sabre-toothed tiger would have roamed across the grassland plains and open woodlands throughout both North and South America where individuals would of varied slightly depending on the area which they inhabited.
The sabre-toothed tiger was named for the canines that could grow to more than 7 inches in length and were capable of fatally wounding their prey with one bite.
Sadly, the colour of the sabre-tooth tiger is unknown but it is thought that is would of been of a similar colouration to the modern day lion found in Africa (and which it is not closely related to).
The sabre-toothed tiger also had a powerful, muscular body which meant that it could quickly catch and pounce on it’s prey before using it’s knife-like teeth to cause to the fatal blow.
The sabre-toothed tiger was a carnivorous animal and would of been the most dominant predator within its environment.
Large herbivorous animals such as deer and bison would of been the most common prey of the sabre-toothed tiger along with occasional giant such as a small woolly mammoth should their ranges cross, although their exact diet is unknown.
The sabre-toothed cat would of been the most ferocious and therefore the apex predator within it’s environment so had no natural predators on the American plains.
Humans are thought to be the most likely cause for the demise of this enormous cat and more than 2,000 sabre-toothed tiger skeletons have been found emerged in the famous tar pits close to Los Angeles.
‘Rarely does a portrait reveal the fluid grace of a leopard in motion’
Image Credit: Photograph by Konrad Wothe/NHM
The Hunter by Konrad Wothe
Leopards are among the most popular portrait subjects for photographers. But since leopards normally sleep during the day, most portraits show them reclining, usually draped over a branch.
Rarely does a portrait reveal the fluid grace of a leopard in motion. To create such a shot required planning.
The photographer stayed for more than a week in Tanzania’s Serengeti national park and got to know the leopard’s hunting area and where she was likely to rest. He also knew she would climb down from her sleeping tree at dusk to begin hunting.
This was in the days of film, the 1990s, when a picture could be taken after sundown only with the use of a low speed and a wide aperture to capture the last of the light.
Working with rather than against the inevitable grain that would result, the photographer enhanced the sense of movement by panning the camera along with the stride of the leopard, keeping the focus on her eye.
The result was a painterly representation and a prize‑winning picture that has stood the test of time.