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EmpressStarXVII

New Leopard Species Found in Borneo

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New Leopard Species Found in Borneo

By VIJAY JOSHI

AP

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (March 15) - The clouded leopard of Borneo - discovered to be an entirely new species - is the latest in a growing list of animals and plants unique to the Southeast Asian island's rainforest and underscores the need to preserve the area, conservationists said Thursday.

Genetic tests by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute revealed that the clouded leopard of Borneo and Sumatra islands is a unique cat species and not the same one found in mainland Southeast Asia as long believed, said a statement by WWF, the global conservation organization.

"Who said a leopard can never change its spots? For over a hundred years we have been looking at this animal and never realized it was unique," said Stuart Chapman, WWF International Coordinator of the Heart of Borneo program, which is dedicated to preserving the flora and fauna in the deep jungles on Borneo.

The secretive clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo, growing sometimes to the size of a small panther. They have the longest canine teeth relative to body size of any cat.

"The fact that Borneo's top predator is now considered a separate species further emphasizes the importance of conserving the Heart of Borneo," Chapman said.

The news about the clouded leopard comes just a few weeks after a WWF report showed that scientists had identified at least 52 new species of animals and plants over the past year on Borneo, the world's third largest island that is shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Heart of Borneo, a mountainous region about five times the size of Switzerland covered with equatorial rainforest in the center of the island, is the last great forest home of the Bornean clouded leopard.

Researchers believe that the Borneo population of the clouded leopard likely diverged from the mainland population some 1.4 million years ago.

Over the millennia, at least 40 differences emerged between the two species, making them as distinct as other large cat species such as lions, tigers and jaguars.

The results of the genetic study are supported by separate research on geographical variation in the clouded leopard, based mainly on fur patterns and coloration of skins held in museums and collections.

The Borneo clouded leopard is darker than the mainland species and has many distinct spots within its small cloud markings. It also has a grayer fur, and a double dorsal stripe.

Clouded leopards from the mainland have fewer and fainter markings within large clouds on their skin. They are also lighter in color.

"It's incredible that no one has ever noticed these differences." said Andrew Kitchener from the Department of Natural Sciences, National Museums, Scotland.

A total of 5,000 to 11,000 Bornean clouded leopards are estimated to live in the jungles of Borneo. The total number in Sumatra could be in the range of 3,000 to 7,000 individuals. The cats' biggest threat is destruction of their habitat.

source

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I thought this was interesting. It's fur print kind of reminds me of a snake.

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While you have an AWSOME picture of it... just like 2 or 3 topics down.. Owl beat you to it..

XD This is still an awsome find indeed!!

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Awesome discovery...beautiful looking cats too.

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Eeek! Sorry!

It happens XD

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they have been looking at if for over a hundred years???? helo! The country is only on the 49th years of independence and whatever forest reserve research etc is done much later than that.... and when was WWF formed?

by the way, it's not really 100% forest in there, there's lots of small towns, villagers and housings connected by roads or river (with public transportation service)

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Cool. I saw this on FNC. I wanted to hear about it. But I missed the report. That's so cool! I LOVE big cats. <3

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How beautiful it is.

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Almost as beautiful as the snow leopards...

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what a beautiful beast. looks like an african leopard with a clouded leopards coat/skin. I wonder why it took them so long to realize they were distinct species........ The head on this clouded leopard is longer than the already known clouded leopard. And the coloration and pattern on the coat is definately distinct

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That leopard is handsome as hell.

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nice, hope no stupid hunters put their eyes on them

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Wow, how beautiful is that?

Really hope they exploited now that they have so much fame...

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i feel that species are wrongly classified in many cases i think this is not a new species as much as a sub species i think the biological community needs to sit down and come up with a true deff. on what a species is like astronomers did with planets. becaus a species is any two animals that can breed and produce fertile offspring now if this cat was to be bredd with a main land clouded leopard it could most likely produce offspring that are fertile. thus imo its a subsepcies. tigers and lions can breed and produce fertile offspring thus they should be considered the same species and multiple sub species and sub sub species and thne a horse and a donkey can produce offfspring but its not fertile thus they are difrent species and yet lions and tigers are diffrent species and now this cat is a new species its confusing.

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