National Geographic : 2017 Feb
Pallas’s cat Leopard cat Fishing cat Flat-headed cat Rusty-spotted cat Wildcat (Includes domestic cat) Chinese mountain cat Sand cat Black-footed cat Jungle cat Cheetah Jaguarundi Puma Eurasian lynx Canada lynx Iberian lynx Northern tiger cat Serval African golden cat Caracal Marbled cat Bay cat Asiatic golden cat Southern tiger cat Guiña Geoffroy’s cat Andean cat Pampas cat Margay Ocelot Bobcat Pardofelis Caracal Leopardus Lynx Puma Acinonyx Prionailurus Otocolobus Genus: Felis Catopuma Leptailurus Herpailurus 7.3 mya 8.2 mya 8.8 mya 9.8 mya 10.7 mya 11.5 mya 8.1 mya 6 mya 5 mya 3.5 mya 3.1 mya 6.3 mya 5.5 mya 5.7 mya 4.2 million years ago Domestic cat lineage Leopard cat lineage Puma lineage Ocelot lineage Caracal lineage Bay cat lineage Panthera lineage Lynx lineage Vulnerable Endangered Near threatened Least concern Pallas’s cat Black-footed cat Domestic cat Andean cat Iberian lynx Flat-headed cat Cheetah Jaguarundi Puma Serval African golden cat Marbled cat Bay cat Most recent common ancestor of the living species 1.6 ft (average) Small cats (seven line ages)Bigcats(onelineage) scientists are working around the clock to do just that. Sitting in front of an array of computer mon- itors, keepers record behaviors of their 41 Iberian lynx on the hour, 24/7. On this hot afternoon, the animals—a mix of breeding females, cubs, and juveniles being readied for reintroduction—are mostly resting indoors. The center’s veterinarian, María José Pérez, explains the painstaking lengths taken to prepare young lynx for release into the wild: surrounding their enclosures with black barriers so they don’t see people, feeding them rabbits through vegetation- covered tubes, scaring them with horns so they learn to fear cars. “I feel privileged to contribute to the lynx not going extinct,” Pérez says. At his desk, keeper Antonio Esteban clicks over to a video feed of a mother lynx and her four cubs sprawled on the ground, paws tucked close to their tiny faces. Someday these animals will be crucial to the survival of their species. But for now they’re doing what felines do best: taking a catnap. j Roaring vs. Purring Big cats diverged from small cats 11.5 million years ago. One way to distinguish between them is by sound. Most big cats have a flexible neck bone called the hyoid, which allows them to stretch their larynx to roar. In small cats, however, the hyoid is hardened, which prevents them from roaring but still allows them to purr. Christine Dell’Amore, natural history editor for National Geographic’s website, enjoys spending time with her own small cat in Washington, D.C. DAISY CHUNG, NGM STAFF. SOURCES: IUCN (2016); WILLIAM MURPHY, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY; LUKE HUNTER, PANTHERA; ANDREW KITCHENER, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND Gallery on previous pages: leopard cat, Prionailurus bengalensis, at Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, Cambodia; jaguarundis, Herpailurus yagouaroundi, at Bear Creek Feline Center, Florida; Asiatic golden cat, Catopuma temminckii, at Assam State Zoo, India; Asiatic wildcat, Felis silvestris ornata, at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium; leopard cat, Prionailurus bengalensis, at Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity; Geoffroy’s cat, Leopardus geoffroyi, at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden; African wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica, at Omaha Zoo’s Wildlife Safari Park; margay, Leopardus wiedii, at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gar- den; sand cat, Felis margarita, at Chattanooga Zoo; rusty-spotted cat, Prionailurus rubiginosus, at Exmoor Zoo, England; serval, Leptailurus serval, at Fort Worth Zoo. Shadow catS 115 How Are Small Cats Faring? Many small cats have adapted well to their changing environments, but several species are considered vulnerable or endangered.