The Old World Jaguar


Unless you know your big cats particularly well, it can be difficult to separate the leopard (Panthera pardus) and the jaguar (Panthera onca). Both are large, lithe animals with black rosettes on a yellowish background coat. Put them beside each other and it can be difficult to say which is which. In the wild it’s much easier- the leopard is only found in the old world, and the jaguar in the new world (particularly South America). There are some other subtle clues: the jaguar tends to have rosettes with central spots, while the leopard does not. The jaguar is a more powerful cat than the leopard, known to hunt capybara and kill them by penetrating the skull with their canine teeth. Perhaps paradoxically there have been only a handful of recorded fatal encounters between humans and jaguars in all of recorded history, while the leopard is…

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