Cougar

Article

August 11, 2022

Puma or cougar (lat. Puma concolor), a mammal from the cat family, can be found in North, Central and South America. The word "puma" comes from the Quechua language. On the American continent, it is considered the second heaviest cat, right after the jaguar, and the fourth in the world together with the leopard, just behind the tiger, lion and jaguar, although it actually belongs to the group of smaller cats.

Naming and etymology

The word cougar is borrowed from Portuguese çuçuaran, via French; and it was originally derived from the Tupi language. The current form in Brazil is sucuarana. In the 17th century, George Markgrave called the cougar the cuguacu macaw. Margrave's depiction was duplicated in 1648 by his associate William Piso. The name cuguacu macaw was then adopted by John Ray in 1693. In 1774, Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, Comte de Buffon, converted the caguaca macaw to cuguar, which later changed to "cougar" in English. "Puma" is a common name used in Latin America and much of Europe. The term cougar is also used in the United States. The first use of puma in English dates back to 1777, and was introduced from Spanish and before that from Quechua in the 16th century, where it means "powerful." In the western United States and Canada, it is also called "mountain lion," a name that was first used in written form in 1858. Other names include "panther", "painter" and "catamant". Early Spanish explorers of the Americas named the puma gato montés (meaning "cat of the mountain") and león (meaning "lion"). The puma holds the Guinness record for the animal with the most names, with more than 40 in English alone.

Taxonomy

Felis concolor was the scientific name proposed by Carl Linnaeus in 1771 for the long-tailed cat from Brazil. The second half of the name "concolor" means "uniform colors" in Latin. William Jardine placed this species in the genus Puma in 1834. This genus is part of Felinae. The puma is closely related to the jaguarundi and the cheetah.

Subspecies

After Linnaeus' first scientific description of the puma, 32 zoological specimens of the puma were described and proposed as subspecies by the late 1980s. Genetic analysis of cougars' mitochondrial DNA indicates that many of them are too similar to be recognized as distinct at the molecular level, and that there are only six phylogeographic groups. Florida panther samples showed little microsatellite variation, possibly due to