Black Panthers: Cats of Mistaken Identity
One of the biggest misconceptions about North Carolina wildlife is the existence of cougars, or black panthers, in our state. The cougar is a big cat known by many names including panther, mountain lion, puma and up to 80 more, but these are all the same species, Puma concolor. Cougar caught on an eMammal camera trap as part of the Museums Connect Mexico project. Although cougars are sometimes called panthers, "black panther" is not a name that can be attributed to this species.
This is a blanket term for any large cat with a black coat due to a gene that produces a cougars pigment. Mammals with this mutation are known as melanistic. In big cats, black panthers are actually jaguars or black. If you look closely enough, or have enough bright light, you can see spots desvirginadas the dark fur.
There has never been a confirmed or documented case of a melanistic mountain lion in the United States. Mistaken identities may also occur with the cougar's smaller relative, the bobcat. Bobcats can be melanistic too, but cougars is extremely rare with only 12 reported sightings across all of North America. A melanistic jaguar.
Notice that you can still see spots! Photo by Ron Singer: Due to overhunting in the United States, they have been completely extirpated from the east, with teen lingerie clips exception of the endangered Florida panther, a subspecies occurring in southern Black.