Thursday, February 13, 2014

Have you seen the Pauline Panther

Move over, North Campus Cougar. Looks like you have some competition. Via Missed Connections?
Pauline Panther (Pauline Blvd, by the Stadium)

Me: Just another driver on Pauline Blvd.

You: The gigantic black cat-like creature that ran in front of my Prius and disappeared into the bushes.

Seriously, has anyone else on Pauline Blvd seen the enormous black feline-type animal? Or does anyone in that area own a really, really big cat? My friend saw it a week before I did, and I called him a liar and an exaggerator. I see now that I was wrong.

Don't have any complaints about the panther, just curious what species it actually is. We can live in peace, panther. We can live in peace.

Fascinating. Has anyone else seen this creature? I wonder what it could be. I wish there were a size description and more information about the tail. The term panther is problematic; it can refer to jaguars (Panthera onca), leopards (Panthera pardus) or possibly mountain lions (Cougar concolor). It may be tempting to conclude that the panther in question is a mountain lion, the only big cat to have a historic range that includes Michigan. Unfortunately experts have concluded that the two reports of North American Black Panthers (both from the 18th century) are the results of miss identification by non-experts. Upon reexamination these two accounts were probably ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), a medium sized cat with a melanistic phase native to the neotropics. It is unlikely the Pauline Panther is a melanistic ocelot because I doubt they would be too happy with the cold weather.

There are of melanisic (e.g. black) jaguars and leopards. Upon initial consideration, these two seem like unlikely candidates for the Pauline Panther. Leopards are native to Asia and Africa. Jaguars range from the Southwest US through Southern Argentina. Unlikely to be the Pauline Panther, right? WRONG! In his groundbreaking 2011 Canadian Field-Naturalist article, Evidence Confirms the Presence of Cougars (Puma concolor) in Ontario, Canada, Trent University biologist, Rick Rosatte presents the following image:

That's right, a mothereffing melanistic jaguar in Guelph, Ontario. If it can happen in Canada. It can happen here folks. Apparently large cats have a habit of escaping from poorly regulated private zoos. So, it is plausible that the Pauline Panther may be a melanistic jaguar. But it is unlikely. Jaguars are big; the smallest females are still about 36 kg (80 lbs.) and 1.2 m (4 ft) long without the tail. Additionally, the jaguar, like the ocelot, probably wouldn't like the snow.

There are other possibilities too, especially if the creature in question was not that large or not that feline. It could be a gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) or a very dark colored coyote (Canis latrans). Finally, there are the most mundane possibilities: a black Labrador retriever, a very larger Maine Coon, and finally giant raccoon.

Gentle readers, have you seen the Pauline Panther? What do you think it could be?

No comments:

Post a Comment