16 March 2007

A new/old cat species

From the WWF:
Gland, Switzerland – Scientists have discovered that the clouded leopard found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is an entirely new species of cat. The secretive rainforest animal was originally thought to be the same species as the one found in mainland South-east Asia.

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Researchers at the US National Cancer Institute say the differences between the Borneo and mainland clouded leopard were found to be comparable to the differences between other large cat species such as lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard. They believe the Borneo population likely diverged from the mainland population some 1.4 million years ago.

“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 Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, US National Cancer Institute. “DNA tests highlighted around 40 differences between the two species.”

The Bornean clouded leopard was originally classified as a distinct species, Felis diardi (or diardii), but has long been considered to be a subspecies of Neofelis nebulosa. Now that it's being reclassified as a separate species again, it's being referred to (though not yet officially) as N. diardi.

H/T to Darren Naish, who has a good post, with some excellent pictures (including the one I copied above), here. You can read more about it here and here. See here for more about N. nebulosa.

1 comment:

flem snopes said...

That is one beautiful cat...

Like to have one stuffed and mounted over my mantle!

RM2(SS)