ABC's and "Black Panthers"
ABC, a British term meaning "Alien Big Cat" (no connection to extraterrestrials), is a catch-all term for a variety of anomalous felines, generally any ordinary-appearing variety of big cat found in a place where the particular type is not normally found. This includes sightings of pumas in eastern North America, where the animals are supposedly long extirpated, and in Europe, where they never existed, particularly Scotland. ‘Black Panthers’, any large black cat, are sighted throughout both areas, and even into Australia, further complicating the enigma. In some cases, maned 'African' lions are seen.
In a typical ABC sighting a tawny, brown, jet-black or even dark grey catlike animal between 3’- 4’ at the shoulder is seen, sometimes in car headlights at nigh, sometimes even coming towards the witness, but usually some distance off, in a meadow or open woods. Mass livestock deaths are often associated with these animals, particulary the "Beast of Exmoor", a local name for an English ABC. It would be easy to regard these sightings as misidentifications, a few feral exotic pets, or just young vagrants far from their normal range, if it were not simply for the number of sightings! The Eastern Puma Research Network has logged well over 7, 000 reports, where poor BigFoot has been sighted just over a thousand times, and the Scottish Big Cat Trust has recorded 2,321 sightings in Scotland alone. Considering the majority of these people (and most people in gneral) have never even heard of an ABC's, that they are all making it up is near impossible. As to what people are seeing, however, is another question entirely.
A dark-colored puma shot in Costa Rica in 1959. Some have suggested that 'black panthers' are, in fact, just dark brown pumas like this one.
Since approximately 37% of all puma sightings in the Eastern Untied States are of ‘black’ specimens, it would be reasonable to assume that, if these are indeed normal pumas, a large percentage of ‘normal’ puma populations would be similarly black. This, however, is not the case. While melanism-the genetic condition in which an animal is completely black in pigmentation- is common enough in leopards ( Panthera pardus, the Asian ‘black panther’ is just a melanastic leopard) and even more so in jaguars (Panthera onca) there are no skins, clear photographs, video, or captive specimens of true black pumas! Double this with the fact that no indisputable proof of an eastern puma, other than the known Florida ‘panther’, has ever been found in any way, shape or form, and we are forced to quote J. Greenwall, of the International Society of Cryptozoology, in calling this a “mind-boggling situation”. Theories vary on the origin of these strange sightings, but several are prominent. In the UK, a popular theory is that the cats are descendants of feral cats, pumas and leopards primarily, that were kept as pets, but released either due to the fact their owners no longer wanted them, or due to a act passed in 1976 (the Dangerous Wild Animals Act) that forbade keeping of exotic, dangerous animals without specific expensive permits and safety precautions. This same general theory can be applied to the US, where keeping of big cats is still popular among individuals. This would certainly explain the lions, and the fact most of the leopards (assuming that is what they are) are black. In addition, by a seperate theory, in the Scottish highlands there lives remnant populations of the European wild cat ( Felis silvestris). A few very large black cats were not long ago in that area (Kellas) and turned out to be hybrids between feral cats and the above animal, now called the Kellas cat, after the village in which they were originally found. Many people maintain that ABC’s are just these; cats that are bigger than most, and exaggerated the rest of the way. This may hold true for parts of Scotland, at least in those cases the size estimate is subject to question, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the UK, most of mainland Europe, North America and Australia. In North America, the supposedly extinct Panthera atrox is often pointed to, and in Australia the felid-like Thylacleo is suggested, as for the Queensland tiger. Even extreme migrations of jaguars and jaguarondis have been put up, but are even more unlikely considering the latitudes at which they have been spotted. The theory that in the UK, big cats have always been living there secretly since prehistoric times is the most radical one yet.
Perhaps,it is technically possible each ABC is due to a separate animal, and many different theories are correct for each place they are found. Perhaps there are the only black pumas in the world in Eastern North America, and feral leopards have managed to stay hidden in Scotland's scattered wild areas. However, it would be beastly coincidence if they were.
Tennessee Red Cheetah
A catlike animal described as resembling a cheetah has been sighted sporadically in this American state. It is described as having a reddish dorsal stripe and a red tail, with the remainder of the body being golden brown with black spots and stripes. One was supposedly shot, but, of course, the location of the body or skin is unknown. This animal may have been (assuming it ever existed) a feral cheetah with unusual pigmentation, a puma/jaguar hybrid (very unlikely!) or even an erythrinsic (reddish colored) puma. The most popular explanation, however, is Miracinonyx a prehistoric cheetah of the Pleistocene, which, by a vivid stretch of the imagination, may have lived hidden in the Appalachian Mountains to this very day.
Ozark Black Howler
Found in the rural Ozark mountains, particularly around Arkansas, the Ozark Howler, probably named for its howling cry, is described as a heavily-built bobcat-sized or larger (up the 3’ at the shoulder) animal with solid black, bushy fur and prominent ear tufts. It is also said to have a thick, medium-length tail and beardlike tufts on its jowls, similar to normal lynx. Almost completely nocturnal, it is often sighted crossing the road.
A supposed Ozark Howler print.
Black bobcats are not unheard of, though very rare, and could account for at least some sightings (though the size is unusual). Most probable is a local variant or subspecies of bobcat (Lynx rufus) of larger size and dark coloration, but possibly a new species of Lynx. It has also been suggested as being a population of introduced Canadian lynx that for some reason are dark colored, or even an animal that is not in the Felidae family. It is often associated with Eastern Pumas and Black panthers.
Mexican Ruffed Cat
The Mexican Ruffed Cat is an unusual felid said to live in the Mexican Sierra Mountains in the state of Nayarit. It is described as ‘medium sized’ and distinguishable from the jaguar, puma and jaguarondi. It has a short tail and a thick mane that almost obscures its ears. It is darker in color than the puma, and has ‘wavy’ stripes on its flank and upper leg. It has long legs, well-furred paws, and a short face. It was dark brown along it’s spine and tail, and on it’s lower limbs. The great Ivan T. Sanderson, in 1940, obtained a skin supposedly of this animal, one about 6 feet long and with a foot and a half of tail. A second skin was later obtained, smaller and in worse condition, but with darker stripes. Both skins were, unfortunately, destroyed in a flood of Sanderson’s base in Belize, were they were stored.
This animal has been explained as being a new species or subspecies of small felid (bobcat, jaguarondi or misplaced lynx) or puma, the most likely, and also a surviving prehistoric big cat (Smilidon or Panthera atrox). Less likely is an enormous feral cat or even a tiger/lion (tigris x leo) hybrid.
Several reports from Peru describe black cats larger than puma, most probably exaggerated reports of black jaguars. In Brazil and Guiana, an animal once referred to as the Jaguarete (a term now used to describe ocelots) is well-recorded. While most descriptions come from the 18th century, the animal is was distinguished from jaguars by its white underbelly, throat, upper lip and the insides of the legs. The paws, too, were white and its hair was short and dusky, with even darker spots visible under its coat. It is said that a pair was exhibited in London during that time period. The best explanation for this is normal jaguars with a pigment condition know as abundism, or pseudo-melanism, sometimes recorded in leopards, or some similar mutation. In the same area there are reports of the Cunarid Din, more or less like a normal jaguar, but with white rather than yellow as the base color, and supposedly larger than the normal. Most likely just a mutation similar to that which produced black-striped white tigers. Also, the spots are said to be finer on the legs, and with fewer rosettes on the flank. The Leopard-Spotted jaguar is a known anomalous color morph.
The South American Tigers
Note: in Latin America, ‘tiger’ is a general term for any big cat, usually reserved for the jaguar. The forests of Peru and Ecuador seem particularly infested with a variety of reportedly new and distinct types of big cats. Possibly these rainforests are a new epicenter of big cat evolution, or that the local jaguars for some bizarre reason mutating into an astounding variety of color morphs. It may also be true that the locals, for some reason, are obsessed big cats to the extent of exaggerating local variants and spinning tales of brand new ones. Either way, the southern America is home to an astounding variety of semi-mythical cats.
Speckled tiger of Peru is said to be the same size as the known jaguar, but with broken-up solid black speckles. It is gray, and has a larger head than the normal jaguar. The Striped Tiger of the same country inhabits the hilly lowland rainforests, and is the size of a jaguar with tiger-like stripes. This is possibly due to abundism, causing the spots to instead appear as swirling stripes. A skull of a female striped tiger was obtained by Peter Hocking in 1994, and a photo is said to show the skull as visibly narrower than a normal jaguar, and while I, personally, do not know its whereabouts, it is said to match no known animal. A solitary report of a striped cat, smaller and more timid than a jaguar, with protruding teeth, in Paraguay seems unrelated. The Waracabra or Warracaba Tiger, or Y’agamisheri of Peru is a (supposedly) jaguar-like animal that hunts in packs. They vary in size and are more often heard then seen. Folklore tells us that they gather in packs of up to 100, but most likely the animal is based on a confusion of female jaguars hunting with cubs, and the noisy, nocturnal, social bush-dog. The Water tiger or Entzaeia-Yawa of Ecuador can be white, brown, tawny or black, but always with long hair and a bushy tail, and is infamous as a man-eater. The unusual color variety may be due either to mutations within the species or environmental factors. The Rainbow tiger (Tshenkutshen) is described as having a white coat with black spots, and with red, white, black, and yellow striping on the chest. It is an agile and arboreal animal, with paws adapted for grasping braches, and (of course) is considered very dangerous. It’s description may be based on mutations of ocelots or margays, both which have similar striping patterns. In a slightly unrelated story, several reports came out of El Salvador in 1972 that true Bengal tigers could be hunted in the neighboring country of Honduras, the tigers being the descendants of circus escapees.
Other South American Felines
The Jungle Wildcat is domestic-cat sized, blotched in coloration and has protruding fangs. Often associated with the above cat, it is said to travel in packs of around 10. The Social Jungle Cat, or Tsere-Yawa is small, brown, and semi-aqatic, and hunts in packs of 8-10. The Milta is described as a small black, doglike cat, and is about the size of a foxhound. This animal probably origiates due to confusion with the Bush dog, or it’s relative the Small eared dog, which is dark colored and catlike. The Mato Grasso, or Siemel’s Mystery Cat, is a small odd cat shot by Sacha Siemel. It was heavily-built and fawn-colored, with brown spots and a dark dorsal stripe. Possibly a puma/jaguar hybrid, as suggested by the man who shot it. While this is physically possible, such hybrids have never before been recorded in the wild. It is also possibly a puma retaining juvenile coloration. No word on where the animal was taken.
A photograph of a pumalike felid similar in pigmentaion to the mystery cat mentioned above, though of lighter build.Origin unknown.
Also known as the Nuda, and found in Tanzania, Africa, this creature is depicted as the size of a donkey with a striping pattern similar to a tabby, with black stripes on the flanks and blotches on the back and head. It is said to purr like a smaller felid, and has teeth that protrude like tusks.
The history of the Mngwa goes back, recorded in native folklore, almost a thousand years, but it is generally considered a mythical beast. British settlers of the area largely ignored native references until some horrible maulings in 1922 were blamed on the animal. Witnesses to one of these attacks describe a gigantic brindle feline killing a man. Poisons in bait and traps were set, but (of course) caught nothing. Some maulings continued to the 1930’s, a rare survivor identifying his assailant as neither a leopard nor a lion, both which he was familiar with, but the Mngwa. In addition, some gray, matted, fur and brindle hair was found,in one case gripped in the hand of a dead victim.
It has been theorized that the animal is a lion-sized animal with a tiger-like skull, Panthera crassidens, that survived from the Pleistocene. An African species of tiger, similar to the blue tiger, has also been suggested, though this is unlikely on many levels. It has also been explained as a giant relative of the indigenous golden cat, a small tawny brindle felid.
The Marozi is one of many African lion/leopard cats, found in Nairobi and Kenya, and is more or less described as a lion with leopard spots. The Marozi was first introduced to the outside world in 1931, when a farmer in the Aberdare Mountains shot two small lions at about 10,000 feet in elavation. The two cats were mounted as trophies and eventually caught the eye of the Game Department. Upon examining the specimens, they found that the skins, one male and the other female, and though young adult, showed spots! This, of course, was unheard of, as only very young lion cubs show spots, and light, rosette less ones at that.The excitement caused by these skins was spread enough to inspire at least one young explorer to look for it. At this point, Kenneth Dower steps into the picture.
Dower was a well-to-do man looking for wildlife and adventure in the Dark Continent. At the age of 29, he set out into the African bush, looking for nothing in particular, but with an eye out for the possibility of new species. In the next 6 years, he found 2 spoor trails, with tracks smaller than a lions but slightly larger than leopards, seemingly of a male and female hunting together, and a second trail taken to be a marozi due to its location. He also collected several eyewitness accounts about the marozi. He eventually published a book, The Spotted Lion which had a somewhat decieving title, as he described many of his explorations on the continent, not simply the cryptic felid. While no conclusive proof of the animal was ever found by Dower, he continued to push it into public view. Several others came forward, including G. Hamilton, who had seen a pair on the Kinagop plateau, Captain R.E. Dent, who saw four prior to 1908, and a report of one trapped and killed, to vouch for the animal’s existence. Still, it is not certain just what was being seen.
There are several main theories that are said to explain the Marozi, but the most popular is that they are natural lion/leopard hybrids. This theory is incomplete; however, as even though most of the characteristics of the marozi fit a leopon (leopard/lion cross) we must remember that, while possible and found in captivity, such hybrids are unheard of in the wild, and what’s more is that leopons are traditionally sterile, and so could not live as a separate species. Add in that lions are rare and leopards almost nonexistent in the areas in which marozi are found, and you are forced to look elsewhere for an explanation. The cats may also be some sort of rare genetic variant, like the white Timbavati lions, which are a different color for most lions, but are able to interbreed with normal lions and pass on there genes. This does not, however, explain the small size and why they are only found with other marozi (rather than other normal-colored lions). The theory that the animal was made up to encourage explorers to visit the region does not get us any farther, as only one expedition was ever launched in pursuit of the animal, and so this could hardly been very profitable. The last possibility, the most perfect-fitting and least likely, is that the marozi is a complete and separate species of lion. However, this is nothing but a bunch of guesswork. There may, in fact, be an actual answer, a real answer, hidden in the Natural History Museum in London. There lies a skin, plus skull, of a supposed marozi, shot by Michael Trent in 1931. It is unknown wether or not the skin can prove the marozi’s existence, but it has been examined various times without a solid conclusion. The first official examination, by R.I. Pocock, and a photograph, can be found below. We can only hope it will some day be used in DNA tests.
"It is a male, measuring approximately: - head and body 5ft. 10½ in., tail, without terminal hairs of the tuft, 2 ft. 9 in., making a total of about 8 ft. 8 in. This is of course small for adult East African lions, of which the dressed skins may surpass 10 ft. over all. From its size I guessed it to be about three years old, a year or more short of full size. There is nothing particularly noticeable in its mane, which is small and, except on the cheeks, consists of a mixture of tawny, grey and black hairs, the longest up to about 5 in. in length. … the peculiarity of the skin lies in the distinctness of the pattern of spots, consisting of large "jaguarine" rosettes arranged in obliquely vertical lines and extending over the flanks, shoulders and thighs up to the darker spinal area where they disappear. They are irregular in size and shape, the largest measuring 85 by 45 or 65 by 65 mm. In diameter. Their general hue is pale greyish-brown, with slightly darkened centres, but at the periphery they are thrown into relief by the paler tint of the spaces between them. On the pale cream-buff belly, the solid richer buff spots stand out tolerably clearly. The legs are covered with solid spots, more distinct than the rosettes of the flanks, and on the hind legs they are more scattered and a deeper, more smoky grey tint than on the fore legs. The skulls of the pair of spotted lions secured by Mr. Trent were not preserved when the animals were skinned; but a skull presumed to belong to one of them, with all the teeth and the lower jaw missing, was subsequently picked up near the spot and submitted to me with the skin. It is a young skull with all the sutures open, showing it had not attained full size and may well be the estimated age of the skin. It is not sufficiently developed to be sexed with certainty … The skull in question may prove to be that of a slightly dwarfed lion with the teeth and skull reduced to about the size of those of an ordinary lioness."
Other African Felids
The Ikimizi, found in the Mufinbiro Volcanoes of Rwanda, is a cat said to look like a cross between a lion and leopard. It is grey in color, with darker spots and a beard under its jaw. The Bung Bring, of the Cameroons and the Ethiopian Abasambo are described very similar to the one above. The Bakanga of the Ubangi region of the Central African Republic, is intermediate in size between a lion and leopard, and it is described as similar to a mane-less lion in appearance, with reddish-brown fur and a dappled spotting similar to a leopard, and is said to bark instead of roaring. Yet another lion/leopard cryptid is the Kitalargo or Ntarargo, also called the ‘wonder leopard’ (not sure why) is said to live in Uganda, and is also called the Niarago, the, Enturargo and Ruturargo. It is described as being lightly spotted with a long tail and retractile claws (to differentiate it from the cheetah). The Wobo of Ethiopia is larger than a lion with a grey-brown or yellowish-brown coat, and black stripes. A Wobo pelt was reportedly displayed at a cathedral in Eifag, though many have speculated it is simply a tiger pelt, traded from an Asian vessel at one of Ethiopia’s many ports. The Abu Sotan of Sudan lives in the rocky mountains of the region and is similar to the Wobo, having black blotches and stripes. The Beast of Bungoma of Kenya was a leopard-spotted big cat resembling a gigantic cheetah. The animal was blamed for a rampage in the Mayanja district, killing livestock and eluding traps set to stop it. It was found in a region scarce of leopards and where lions are nonexistent. A similar rampage later was identified as the fault of a large leopard. The Grahmstown Mystery Cat is know from two specimens killed during the 1880’s. It had a tawny coat, almost orange on the shoulder, and was covered with numerous small separate spots, coalescing into black from its head to the base of its tail. The under parts were white, and the animal had a leopard-like face. This is probably due to some form of pseudo-melanism. The Uruturangwe of Rwanda is a leopard-sized animal with a hyena’s coat. It has a long tail, retractile claws, and kills human victims like a leopard does. A skull said to belong to the cat turned out to be a hyena’s, and that is most likely all the animal ever was. The Ndalawo is a fierce man-eater, formed like a leopard, but primarily black shading to gray below. While a pseudo-melanistic leopard would be an obvious conclusion, this creature is also described as hunting in packs of three to four and having a laughing call, suggesting confusion with a hyena. Reportedly, a skin of this animal was obtained, but lost before an identification could be made. In a slightly different field, there have been reports of African lions in Madagascar. Since there have never been any true big cats, or true large mammals at all, living on this island, we must assume, if the lions are real, they must have been imported from the mainland.
While most of Europe's anomalous felines can be classified as 'ABCs', several are unique enough to warrant description in there own right. Here are some of the more distinctive European mystery felids.
Jungle cats, also known as swamp cats, Felis chaus, are believed by some to live in small isolated populations in Britain. They originate in India, where the invading British took them home as pets and ship ratters, and where they may have escaped into the wet British countryside. As evidence, a jungle cat was killed by a car at Hayling Island, (Hampshire) in 1988, and others have been sighted. Some witnesses describe a jungle cat/domestic hybrid, which is plausible considering that Jungle cats can interbreed with domestic cats, and the high feral cat population of the island. The Kellas Cat, already fully described, is a melanistic hybrid between feral domestic cats and Scottish wildcats. The “Irish wildcat” has been reported from time to time, though wildcats do not officially exist in Ireland. While it is not impossible that Scottish wildcats, or domestic cats carrying wildcat genes, may have been imported to the emerald isle, the reports are more likely the result of confusion between the pine marten, often called the ‘wildcat’. However, in some localities the marten is called a ‘tree cat’; ‘hunting cat’ being reserved for some actual nondomesticated felid. In eastern mainland Europe, the Transcaucasian Black Cat from south of the Caucasus Mountains (the transcaucasian region) was reported in 1903, and originally described as a separate species (Felis daemon) but was later reclassified as either feral cats or melanistic Caucasus wildcats (note parallel to Kellas cat). In description it varied from red-tinged black to red-brown, paler underneath, and had sparse white hairs, common in mixed breed black cats. In Jura, true wildcats turn up on occasion, though officially extinct, and are probably vagrants from France. While most of the wildcats on the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Crete are extinct, they are still reported occasionally. A large wildcat has been observed on the island of lle du Levant, of the coast of France. A specimen was caught once, but never formally identified. In the Italian alps, European lynx (Lynx lynx) were officially declared extinct after 1915, though one was sighted in 1983, and in Switzerland, where the cat died out in 1872, there have been scattered reports of sheep, goats and roe deer killed, suggesting it still lives in the more remote regions. The Russian Mystery Panther was an unidentified pantherid responsible for several maulings in the Orel province of Russia in 1893. It was described as being a wolf’s height, yellow colored, having a blunt muzzle, round ears, and a long, smooth tail. Rumored to have escaped from a private estate, the beast killed several people over a year and is believed to have disappeared into the forests beyond the Vetebet River after eating two poisoned sheep. Eyewitnesses described it alternatively as like a lynx and a tiger, though a feral lion fits the description best.
A taxidermied specimen of the Kellas cat
Asia is not home to the same diversity of mystery cats as is Africa and South America, perhaps due to a higher population density of native people, or to a lack of enormous wilderness areas. Whatever the reason, the eastern continent has its own unique brand of cryptic felid. The Harimau Jalor, now rarely sighted, was a larger-than-normal tiger with stripes that run horizontal, rather than vertical. Most think the sightings are actually a result of an optical illusion, from the tiger being seen lying in dappled shade. The Nellimpatti Leopard was a small dark variant of leopard reported in Bali in 1979. The Bali Tiger, an extinct subspecies of the big cat, is also rumored to survive in its native homeland. The Yamamaya of Irimote is either a tiger variant or a form of clouded leopard in which blotches have been elongated to form stripes. The Mint Leaf Leopard is a Chinese wild cat with leaf-shaped markings, and is actually a type of clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). The Seah Malang Poo inhabits the Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. It is a heavily built animal with brown and black stripes, and lives in the karst limestone mountains. A specimen was shot around 1930, and its skin was supposedly sent to the national museum in Bangkok, though nothing has been heard from it since. The Cigau of west Sumatra lives in the wilderness region east of Mt. Kerinci and south to the town of Bangko. It is a large felid that is a yellow-tan in coloration, has a short tail and a ruff around its neck. Smaller and heavier than a tiger, it is greatly feared by natives and is very aggressive. Its front legs are longer than its hind, suggesting a Pleistocene survivor. On the islands of Alor and Solor in the Lesser Sundas, southeast of Sumatra and Java, there is allegedly a strange ‘horned’ cat. It is described as the size of a domestic, but having short knoblike protuberances above its eyebrows. The Hong Kong Mystery Cat was a rampaging catlike creature reported in 1989 that was said to resembled a blackish-grey leopard, though was later described as a dark tiger 3’ high and 4’ long. The animal reportedly killed about twenty dogs of all sizes. The Dogla is an Indian beast thought to be some sort of natural leopard/tiger hybrid, due to it’s description as being marked with a mixture of spots and stripes. Even more unusually, no one has yet succeeded in crossbreeding these two in captivity, suggesting that an abundism mutation in a large leopard is to blame.
Blue tigers have been sporadically reported fin the Fujian Province of China since early in 20th century. The most famous sighting was in 1910, when a missionary by the name of Harry R. Cadwell saw one at close range, which he at first though was a man in blue clothing. After having the unusually pigmented feline pointed out for what it was, he attempted to shoot it, but had to first change position to avoid shooting in the direction of several nearby children gathering plants. The tiger disappeared in the meantime. He described the tiger as having deep Maltese blue fur, with white patches on the face, but an otherwise normal pattern of black stripes, and he eventually went on to publish a book on the animal, Blue tiger. Cadwell carried out several searches for the tiger, accompanied by his son. No other sightings were made, though several Maltese hairs were noted along the trails. There have also been rumored sightings in Korea. The coloration is popularly thought to be due to the same gene combination the produces “blue” lynx and bobcat; the dilute and non-agouti. The combination produces a Maltese color that would very much fit the tiger.
And who could forget the most famous of our cryptic cats? Yes, Saber toothed cats, too, have been sighted in the remote areas around the world. Despite the fact that the majority died out before the end of the Pleistocene, a handful of sightings from a few locals around the world give hope to some that these creatures still exist.
The Tigre de Montage that lives in caves in the Ennedi northern Chad is said to be larger than a lion, lacks a tail, and has red fur striped with white, long hairs on it’s feet, protruding teeth, and is strong enough to carry off antelopes. Its description, if you have not already guessed, matches the image of the extinct Machairodus saber-tooth, which natives have recognized from a reconstruction sketch.. The Hadjel of southwest Chad and the Cog-Ninji or Cog-Djinge, also called the Gassingram, of the Central African Republic are described almost exactly the same as the Tigre, with a lion-like mane, and in the case of the Gassingram, it is noted for leaving oversized footprints. They are all primarily nocturnal, and take their prey into mountainous caves. The areas around Columbia, Paraguay, and Ecuador, are the homeland of many saber-toothed cat sightings. Some indigenous art, including cats with exaggerated canines, support the idea that the Pleistocene predators still hang on in the worlds darkest jungle. These cats could be surviving populations of either the well-know Smilodon, the less-known Machairodus, or even the vaguely catlike South American saber-toothed marsupial Thylacosmilus. The latter is least likely, as the marsupial saber tooth was typically short-legged, low-sung, had a thick, tapering tail, and, more than anything, the bone on the lower jaw extends to cover the sabers in a sort of one-sided sheath. This, if anything, would probably have been included in South American sabertooth descriptions, but has not been. An eyewitness account describes a striped cat smaller than a jaguar with two protruding teeth. The most startling- and the most suspicious- evidence is a report of a ‘mutant jaguar’ killed in Paraguay in 19075. The animal had 12-inch saber teeth, and the zoologist who examined it reportedly felt that the animal was, in fact, a Smilodon. Supposedly, the authorities stuck to ‘mutant jaguar’ as the explanation, fearing that a Saber-toothed cat would frighten the public, and (of course) no more has heard about the carcass since.