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New Species of Wild Cat Discovered in Brazil


Discoveries of previously unknown mammals, especially large mammals, are always an exciting affair, which is why news of scientists discovering a new species of wild cat in Brazil quickly made the rounds on television and the Internet. A mammal discovery is a reminder of how in many ways, we’re still scratching the surface of what we know of the natural world. More importantly, the discovery of the new wild cat brings to light conversation issues for the animals.
Scientists had for many years thought there was only one species of Brazilian tigrina, but it turns out there the housecat-sized tigrina populations in the northeastern and southern section of Brazil are two completely separate species, this according to research on their molecular data. With no evidence to support interbreeding between the tigrina populations, they were declared as two distinct species.

According to Eduardo Eizirik of Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, their research calls for increased focus on the conversation of tigrinas in northeastern Brazil, which little is  known of as far as their biology and numbers go. In contrast, much more is known about the wild cats in southern Brazil.

Eizirik and his colleagues theorize that the two separate species probably evolved according to their environments, with the northeastern tigrinas adapting to savannahs, forests, and dry shrub land, while the southern cats live in wetter and denser Atlantic forests.

All species of wildcats in Brazil however, are threatened, and the race is on to learn more about them to increase conservation efforts.

Read more at Science Daily.

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