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The black panther is a favorite animal for many people. These
big black cats are rare and beautiful animals. Steeped in mystery,
they are referred to as the ghost of the forest.
The black panther is a favorite animal for many people. These big black cats are rare and beautiful animals. Steeped in mystery, they are referred to as the ghost of the forest.
But in reality, the black panther doesn't exist. A true black panther is a melanistic form of the leopard in Asia and Africa, and of the jaguar in the Americas. Melanism is an increased amount of black pigmentation in the upper layers of the skin and hair, resulting from the presence of melanin. This occurs due to a rare genetic mutation.
The name 'black panther' is not a term in the taxonomy. The history of black panther sightings is largely debated. Some say they go as far back as the colonization of the new world. Most evidence, however, points to sightings only being as distant as the end of World War II. One reason for the debate is the term 'Panther' which has been used to describe many species of big cats. The scientific name of Jaguar is Panthera Onca, and of Leopard is Panthera Pardus. This is most likely where the incorrect use of the word 'panther' sprang from.
There are also reports of black or melanistic tigers and lions. One black lion was reported in the wild and one in captivity. Again, there is no evidence to prove it either way. Melanistic individuals of other species do exist - like black servals, jungle cats, bobcats and geoffroy cats from South America.