Big Cats

What is a Big Cat?

By definition, a big cat is actually not determined by size but by a very specific feature. A big cat cannot purr; it roars. There are anatomical reasons for that.

The hyoid bone, a bone at the front of the neck near the larynx, is not completely ossified – not fully bone – in the big cats. The vocal fold in all big cats (except for the snow leopard) is quite large, at least 2 centimeters. This combination allows for loud, deep vibrations.

A large resonance chamber, for example, the lion’s massive chest, produces a roar that can travel long distances. The best-known roaring cat, the lion, can be heard over 5 km away.

However despite being part of the same lineage the snow leopard can no longer roar.

Who are the Big Cats?

The big cats are mostly in the Panthera genus.

Two are in the Neofelis genus – the clouded leopards of Southeast Asia

Check out the biographies of the cats:

 

Jaguar

Jaguar

The jaguar (Panthera onca) stands out with its powerful build and distinctive rosettes, marking it as the apex predator of the New World. Residing from Argentina to the US, they favor tropical rainforests and wetlands. Jaguars are solitary, skilled in ambush hunting, primarily feeding on mammals and reptiles. Despite facing threats from habitat loss and hunting, they are vital for ecosystem balance and ecotourism.

Lion

Lion

Lions are the iconic big cat. We all know what they looks like. Its social structure of living in prides is unique among cats. Their majestic appearance is emphasized by the mane of the males.

Sunda Clouded Leopard

Sunda Clouded Leopard

Also known as the Borneo Clouded Leopard, the Sunda Clouded Leopard once roamed all of the Sunda Islands. Today it is confined to the island of Borneo and has recently been classified as a species in its own right.

Tiger

Tiger

The Tiger needs no introduction. The largest of the cat family is found throughout Asia but the majority of the population is found in India. The conservation efforts of the last years have been most successful in India where some of the national parks are ‘overflowing’ with tigers.

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