The term black panther refers to both leopards (panthera pardus) and jaguars (panthera onca) with black fur color, but actually the word comes from the Latin and means leopard. However, in the course of time the term black panther has caught on for both big cat species. This can definitely lead to misunderstandings also because some people only know the black panther as leopard, some others only as jaguar.
|A Black Jaguar|
|Von B-F-G; used with permission|
The black leopard's and black jaguar's fur color varies from dark brown to black whereas the common leopards and jaguars are yellowish and white. If the exposure to light is opportune, the rosettes can still be spotted. A certain kind of melanism is responsible for the unusual dark coloration, therefore, the black panthers are not a species itself but a special kind of leopards respectively jaguars.
If the light incidence is diagonal, the rosettes can be spotted quite easily despite the black fur. That's because the fur color is not quite black but rather dark brown. A black leopard is also known as melanic leopard.
Black Leopard by Martin Heigan (flickr)
Black Jaguar by redbeard31 (flickr, deviantArt)
Letzte Bearbeitung: 19:17, 01 Jul 2011 - Geo