Jaguar (Panthera onca)
The jaguar is the largest cat of the Americas and a formidable predator. Its common name comes from the native Indian name ‘yaguara’, meaning ‘a beast that kills its prey with one bound’, and its power is clearly displayed by its muscular build, deep chest, large head, broad muzzle, and strong jaws. This remarkable cat possesses a visually striking coat of large black rosettes, mostly enclosing dark spots, set against golden brown to yellow fur, which pales to white on the cheeks, throat and underside. Melanistic forms are also relatively common, often called ‘black panthers’ in the Americas. Jaguars vary considerably in size in different regions, but genetic studies indicate that there are no subspecies. Jaguars found in the dense forested areas of the Amazon Basin are generally smaller and darker in colour than those found in more open terrain.