Thursday, 15 March 2007

Big Cat News: - New Breed of Leopard discovered!

I am sure every cat blogger will agree, this is very important and interesting news. A whole new breed of leopard! Cats of all sizes are cleverer than humans and these beautiful specimens are no different - imagine living all of this time without anyone realising they were completely different from the other inhabitants.

Maybe they would consider adopting Mao? He should be on an island in the middle of nowhere, like them!




Clouded leopards found on Sumatra and Borneo represent a new species, research by genetic scientists and the conservation group WWF indicates.
Until now it had been thought they belonged to the species that is found on mainland southeast Asia.

Scientists now believe the two species diverged more than one million years ago, and have evolved separately since.

Clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo, and can grow as large as small panthers.

It's incredible that no-one has ever noticed these differences

The separation of the species was discovered by scientists at the US National Cancer Institute near Washington DC.

"Genetic research results clearly indicate that the clouded leopards of Borneo should be considered a separate species," said Dr Stephen O'Brien, head of the Institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity.

"DNA tests highlighted around 40 differences between the two species."

Tell tails

Supporting evidence came from examination of fur patterns. Leopards from Borneo and Sumatra have small "clouds" with many distinct spots within them, grey and dark fur, and twin stripes along their backs.


On the prowl

Their mainland cousins have large cloud markings on their skin with fewer, often faint, spots within the cloud markings, and are lighter and more tawny in colour.

"The moment we started comparing the skins of the mainland clouded leopard and the leopard found on Borneo, it was clear we were comparing two different species," said Dr Andrew Kitchener from the National Museums of Scotland.

"It's incredible that no-one has ever noticed these differences."

WWF, which maintains a large conservation operation on Borneo, estimates there are between 5,000 and 11,000 clouded leopards on the island, with a further 3,000 to 7,000 on Sumatra.

"The fact that Borneo's top predator is now considered a separate species further emphasises the importance of conserving the 'Heart of Borneo'," said WWF's Stuart Chapman, co-ordinator of a project seeking to preserve the island's wildlife.

The three governments with territory on the island - Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei - signed an agreement earlier this year pledging to protect the "Heart of Borneo", 200,000 square kilometres of rainforest in the middle of the island thought to be particularly high in biodiversity.


To read more, go here: - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6452555.stm

8 comments:

Kaze, Latte, or Chase said...

Wow, that is remarkable!!! Thanks for sharing.

Latte

Daisy said...

That is very amazing news! I am very glad that the governments are in agreement to protect the heart of Borneo. Those big cats are so beautiful.

Furry Logic said...

We saw that in the new too! WOW! Just goes to show why we need to protect our earth and environment.

o'jeter harris said...

dis iz a verree intrestin post today. i am lernin lottsa stuff latelee ... dat i can tell mi mom hoo, in turn, will tell her stoodentz.
do u think doze catz would ever ride in a stroller?
laffin an laffin!
luv--yer grate frend--o'jete

Tara said...

That is SOOO cool. It is great when ever a new species is identified, but a big cat, WOW!

I don't think they need to worry about going outside.

Thanks for the great info.

Tara

McSkeezix said...

Vary vary intristing!!! Thoze are vary byootiful big cats!

Dragonheart said...

Wow that's amazing! :) Incredible that no one realized they were a separate species before. They are beautiful cats. I'm glad that their habitat is being protected.

Lux said...

That's very interesting! I wonder if any of us are related?