Sunday, November 03, 2013

Can a leopard change its spots - to stripes?

A striped leopard is a contradiction in terms, but Nature is full of contradictions.  One is the striped/blotched King Cheetah, originally thought to have been a distinct species, now known as a recurring genetic abnormality. There is a similar abnormality, which, in handful of even rarer cases (one writer says about a dozen are known), produces this amazing striped leopard.   
A lovely creature, isn't it?
NOTE: I  searched, but I can't find a copyright notice for this image: if I'm violation, I'll take it down.

1 comment:

Dr Karl Shuker said...

Interesting to speculate the genetics behind this 'king' leopard's patterning (it's too gracile to be a jaguar, btw). The king cheetah's ornate markings are due to a single mutant allele homologous to the blotched tabby mutant allele in domestic cats, producing abundism (multiplication of spots) and nigrism (coalescing of spots). In pseudomelanistic leopards, both of these phenomena sometimes occur to a far greater degree, so that great areas of the animals dorsum and flanks can be virtually all-black, with just a few orange streaks here and there that constitute regions of normal background colour that haven't been obscured by the coalesced spots. The above leopard seems to be somewhere between these two forms - more extensive patterning than the king cheetah but less coalescing than in classic pseudomelanistic leopards like the so-called melanotic specimens recorded from Grahamstown, South Africa, during the late 1800s. See my two mystery cat books for more details.