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Author Topic: British Mystery Big Cats
Llewtrah
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I've put this here rather than Wild Kingdom as British "Alien Big Cats" are often viewed as folklore.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4671402.stm

quote:
Police believe they have the first conclusive proof a big cat, dubbed the "Beast of Balbirnie", could be on the loose in Fife.
The print only identifies it as a young exotic big cat, but sightings in the area suggest it is a black leopard.

quote:
judging by the size the animal was 18 months old and was the offspring of an animal released illegally in the 90s.
Alluding to the ongoing tales of big cats loose in the area:

quote:
Nobody should be unduly concerned because these cats have been here for years.
No doubt that last quote will be picked up on in relation to other big cat sightings around our isles.

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dlloyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Llewtrah:
I've put this here rather than Wild Kingdom as British "Alien Big Cats" are often viewed as folklore.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4671402.stm

quote:
Police believe they have the first conclusive proof a big cat, dubbed the "Beast of Balbirnie", could be on the loose in Fife.
The print only identifies it as a young exotic big cat, but sightings in the area suggest it is a black leopard.

quote:
judging by the size the animal was 18 months old and was the offspring of an animal released illegally in the 90s.
Alluding to the ongoing tales of big cats loose in the area:

quote:
Nobody should be unduly concerned because these cats have been here for years.
No doubt that last quote will be picked up on in relation to other big cat sightings around our isles.

There have been numerous big cat sightings in this area over the past few years. Panthers are what they appear to be. There's probably a sizable breeding population throughout the UK.

I've never seen one, but then I've never seen a badger and am quite willing to accept their existence.

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dlloyd
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quote:
Another Sighting Of Big Cat In Angus Hot Spot.
The latest in a series of Angus big cat sighting was made last night on the fringe of Monifieth. Little more than a month after a Carnoustie driver spoke of his encounter with a panther-type creature near the A92, police received a report of a similar animal in the same area. Last night's sighting was reported by a resident of the Fairway who saw the animal around 7.30pm. Described as a big black cat it was reported to be moving around in a field opposite the housing area lies close to the B962, linking Monifieth to the main Dundee-Arbroath road. The animal soon moved off, but police said the person reporting the incident was sure what they had seen was very large and it seems likely that the sighting was only the latest in a long line of appearances-dating back a number of years-of a big cat. In mid-July, car salesman Ian Clark spotted what he initially thought was a stray dog wandering yards from the main coastal route.
He slowed near the spot at Ethiebeaton to get a closer look at the animal and watched the, graceful, jet-black animal head off into bushes near Ashludie Hospital in the 8 am incident. As with previous reports, the animal was around two feet tall, with a long, slim body and piercing eyes. Mr Clark's experience is not unusual and the coastal strip, from Arbroath to Monifieth, is regarded as something of a 'hot-spot' for big cat sightings. Experts believe the animals, are, either panthers, pumas or lynx and more than 25 reported sightings have been made in past five years. Across the Tay, north Fife also seems to be a favoured hideaway for the animals many, of which are believed to have been released into the wild following the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Animals Act by owners who wanted to see the cats go free rather than being put down. However, despite the regularity with which the police receive reports of sightings no big cat has yet been captured in the area, either on film or in the flesh. Indeed no account of a sighting, which can come from any part of the UK, has been substantiated.
Dundee Courier, 25th August 2001.


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yugyug
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Blatherskite
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Why is the thread stupid, yugyug? Sorry, I mean - Supercat?

'They couldn't be species-specific because there wasn't specific clarity in the heel pad but said judging by the size the animal was 18 months old and was the offspring of an animal released illegally in the 90s'

They can tell by the size of a paw print that it was made by the offspring of an animal released illegally in the 90s?!

I notice that the article says the police have had the cast verified, but doesn't say that police made the cast. Am I being paranoid by thinking they left out some backstory there? Did the same people who had the cast verified by experts see the original print in the ground?

I think a few renegade big cats wandering free in Britain are possible, but I doubt it's a frequent occurance.

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Andrew of Ware, England
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Every so often The Fortean Times lists all the big cats sighted in Britain. It calls them ABCs - Alien Big Cats - and whilst it acknowledges there has never been any definite proof of them existing it is keeping an open mind on the matter (as it does on everything for which there is no definite proof).

I will be interested to see what the magazine, the closest thing to 'Snopes' in print I know, says on this report.

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Jay Tea
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*Sings*

Show me a picture
just one little picture
or maybe some video caps
I want nothing blurry
or shadows and stuff
or any of the usual crap!


Garbola! An Island this small with so little in the way of geniune wilderness, crammed full of people, cctv, camera crews etc and there isn't a single decent shred of evidence to suggest big cats anywhere, other than some spurious paw casts and amusing blurry pictures.

Personally I think it stems fro a deep rooted desire to actually share this country with a few larger animals - give the place a bit of mystique [Wink]

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lazerus the duck
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Fortean times have also listed a couple of good hoaxes where the ABC is a stuffed toy carefully placed.
There have been too many sightings to rule everyone out, and we do have breeding colonies of wallabies out there so why not.

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Llewtrah
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Many of the photos I've seen are definitely domestic cats with odd perspective - the head carriage and tail carriage were wrong for any big cat species. But the ABC "experts" declare them real - a triumph of self-delusion over critical analysis. Maybe those ABC experts have never watched a domestic cat at a distance to compare its movement and silhouette.

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Ghost on Toast
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Woah there! The UK isn't that small you know - there are plenty of wild areas where ABCs could be - look at the Dartmoor/Exmoor region as an example. Pretty wild.

Back when I was a journalist I met someone who on first glance was a normal, upstanding guy, not wierdness etc and he swore he'd been throwing scraps of food to a black puma and her cub for months at his regular 'lunch-stop-spot' on his truck round.

He said she was common knowledge in that area. The only thing that makes me suspicious is that I know the big estate in question uses illegal traps so I would have thought maybe it would have been caught?? Anyways...

This country has a habit of chucking out old pets, teenage mutant ninja terrapins are in our rivers from when they got too big, a lot of mink were actually let free by farmers who didn't want to abide by new rules a few decades back or so I've heard - so why not a zoo escapee or private collection escapee?

I mean Muntjac deer - were they not exclusive to Woburn's private collection before they escpaed and bred freely in the wild (anyone?)

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Richard W
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quote:
Blatherskite said:
I notice that the article says the police have had the cast verified, but doesn't say that police made the cast.

It says the cast was made by "Fife Police's wildlife crime officer, Mark Maylin" - or at least, they quote him as saying that he made the cast.

It doesn't look a very clear cast, from the picture. He seems to have used something fairly course like cement, rather than plaster of paris.

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Jay Tea
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quote:
Woah there! The UK isn't that small you know - there are plenty of wild areas where ABCs could be - look at the Dartmoor/Exmoor region as an example. Pretty wild.

Back when I was a journalist I met someone who on first glance was a normal, upstanding guy, not wierdness etc and he swore he'd been throwing scraps of food to a black puma and her cub for months at his regular 'lunch-stop-spot' on his truck round.


Ghost' I know you've mentioned this before but I just don't believe this guy - it's a tall tale in my opinion that's not gonna change until I see some evidence - why didn't he take one tiny little picture if he had these cats feeding out of his hand? Just to prove it to his mates or make a few grand from a newspaper? Spurious.

I agree that there may well have been escapees from private zoo etc but why has there never been one single believable picture ever taken or filmed? These days nearly everybody has a multi media device in their pockets but still a ropy cast is all we have to go on...

As for the UK being 'not that small' - well, taking into account the areas of it that might allow a big cat to be unseen by thousands of people every day it's bloody tiny. I've yomped across all our national parks in no time at all and while I conceed there are some wild areas you don't want to be caught in, ability to read a map will bring you to a pub pretty rapidly [lol]

Another point of course is that even in the midst of these 'wild' areas there are still bloody millions of people - Dartmoor, the Beacons, the Peaks, Glencoe, the Noth Lakes - hordes of people everywhere, all with cameras nonetheless [Wink]

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Richard W
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quote:
Ghost on Toast said:
This country has a habit of chucking out old pets, teenage mutant ninja terrapins are in our rivers from when they got too big, a lot of mink were actually let free by farmers who didn't want to abide by new rules a few decades back or so I've heard

Indeed. And nobody disputes the existence of wild mink in the UK:

Mink UK

Notice that the site has at least one clear photo of a mink in the UK. Notice that mink are much smaller than "big cats". That was the first hit on googling "Mink UK".

This site has information about terrapins in the UK - there was an apparently well documented breeding population of European Terrapins in Suffolk in the 1920s and 1930s. The modern terrapins are Red Eared Terrapins, but it's not clear whether they can breed here.

Notice that they know exactly which species of terrapins these are, and they're indisputably common pets.

Nobody ever even appears to agree on the species of the "big cats". And seriously, who were all these people who were keeping jaguars or pumas or whatever in the 1970s and suddenly let them go? Were there really that many?

(edit) I also find it strange that the guy who fed the puma and cub didn't take a single picture during those months.

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Richard W
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Here's a page about actual Scottish wildcats, and another. It does seem hard to find photographs of wildcats, and it's not clear how many are left or exactly what their range is.

Ah, here's a National Geographic article with a clear photograph. With Only 400 Left, Wildcat May Be on Its Ninth Life. These are extremely shy, nocturnal animals whose territory is more remote than Dartmoor or Fife, and yet it's still possible to have hard data about them and take clear photographs.

The "escaped big cats" may be equally shy, but the first generation at least were meant to have been pets, so it seems that they would have been used to human presence and therefore less elusive... I mean, your witness claims they came to him for food...

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Danvers Carew
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It's quite a small world - I actually live right where these recent sightings have been going on. My next door neighbour claims to have seen the 'big black cat' in a local park, and a neighbour three doors down claims to have seen it in her back garden, which is stretching the limits of credibility somewhat.

At least once or twice a week, there's a new sighting reported in the local paper, and it's quite interesting to follow a phenomenon like this catching on. I don't believe for one minute that there's a panther or some big cat prowling around, but each sighting breeds more and more sightings.

Someone recently took a cast of a 'big cat footprint' they'd found in a field, which was shown in the paper. A few days later, a St.Bernard owner appeared saying he frequently walked his dog in that area, and the mutt's footprint was shown to be vurtually identical to the supposed 'big cat footprint'.

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Ghost on Toast
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Oh God - you people! I didn't say I believed him 100% just said I could find no obvious signs he was lying, he seemed a down to earth chap etc etc - no tin foil hat.

And the cat wasn't eating out of his hand, he was throwing bits to it from a distance.

All I am saying is that I wouldn't say 100% definitely that there are no big cats in the UK. I think it's possible.

So there.

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strange_little_girl
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Hmmmm, this all sounds a bit too similar to sightings of a black panther in Kelty woods(probably about 20 miles from the site in the OP). Theres been talk of a big cat there for many years but recently a police officer managed to take blurry pictures of the animal.
The local paper isn't available online but here is a couple of links I found regarding sightings of the cat.

Non-native Cat Sightings in 2004

Mystery of big cat sightings deepens

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skeptic
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Were those cast made in snow? (A likely possiblitiy in Scotland at this time of year).
Prints made in snow expand slightly when the sun warms them.

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Blatherskite
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quote:
Originally posted by Llewtrah:
Many of the photos I've seen are definitely domestic cats with odd perspective - the head carriage and tail carriage were wrong for any big cat species. But the ABC "experts" declare them real - a triumph of self-delusion over critical analysis. Maybe those ABC experts have never watched a domestic cat at a distance to compare its movement and silhouette.

I saw a documentary about ABCs and at one point the camera crew thought they had captured a big cat on camera, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a typical black housecat. Maybe black cats in particular can play tricks on perpsective, because shadows around the cat make it look bigger.


quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
It says the cast was made by "Fife Police's wildlife crime officer, Mark Maylin" - or at least, they quote him as saying that he made the cast.

I completely mis-read that bit. Sorry!
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Andrew of Ware, England
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quote:
Originally posted by lazerus the duck:
Fortean times have also listed a couple of good hoaxes where the ABC is a stuffed toy carefully placed.
There have been too many sightings to rule everyone out, and we do have breeding colonies of wallabies out there so why not.

I remember that feature. However, just because some reports can be proved false does not rule out all of the others. I read somewhere that a stool has been found that 'proves' at least one report. Does anyone know any more about this?

In addition there have been reliable confirmation of sightings by zoo staff, recognised wildlife experts, etc... Of course, just because someone has seen a big cat in a zoo or in Africa does not mean they can identify the same in the UK.

In the 60s I remember there were a lot of what we now call ABCs. 'The Surrey Puma' was the most famous. This was, IIRC, just after the government ofthe day passed a law restircting the keeping of dangerous animals as pets. Many of these reports must have been of released 'pets'. Perhaps, as has been suggested, many of the reports from today are released pets, but it can't explain for all of them (neighbours will surely know of people keeping big cats).

However, Britain is not the dryest of countries and surely if there are wild cats roaming around then more tracks will have been seen. The longer these reports are made with no definite evidence the more sceptical I become - but it only requires one report to be shown to be correct...

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Rogue1stclass
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Well, there isn't going to be a breeding population of black panthers, because black panthers don't breed true and there will be some normal leopards in the mix. None of the claims I've seen thus far identify a normal leopard. Of course, leopards don't have the mystique of panthers.

American panthers, that is, cougars, don't usually come in black. In fact, of all the cougars killed for bounty in the US over the centuries, there is not one substantiated report of a black one.

Now, it might be a trick of the light that makes them look black, but one would think that someone would describe or photograph a normal member of whatever species it is if people were seeing real panthers.

Finally, big cats need food, and neither variety of panther lives off of rabbits. There would have to be deer or similar animals around to support the population, and you should be able to find evidence of kills. Also, both cats are just the right size and type of hunter to kill humans, so if they are present, eventually one will attack someone.

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Andrew of Ware, England
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It's not looking good for a breeding population of ABCs. There are frequent reports of sheep and cattle being attacked and sometimes big cats are blamed for this (but dogs always seem the safer option). Isolated cases might be an escaped/released pet, but I rarely (if ever) hear of more than one big cat being seen at one time.

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Llewtrah
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quote:
Originally posted by Rogue1stclass:
Well, there isn't going to be a breeding population of black panthers, because black panthers don't breed true and there will be some normal leopards in the mix. None of the claims I've seen thus far identify a normal leopard. Of course, leopards don't have the mystique of panthers.

I'm afraid you have it the wrong way round. Black panthers (leopards) DO breed true. Melanism in leopards is caused by a recessive gene - to be a black leopard, the animal must inherit 2 copies of the gene (i.e. be homozygous). When mated to another black leopard (which must also have 2 copies of the recessive gene in order to be black) only the black genes will be passed on to the offspring.

Spotted leopards may carry the recessive gene for black (i.e. be heterozygous). Two spotted leopards carrying the recessive gene can produce black offspring (which will be homozygous), but 2 black leopards mated together cannot produce spotted offspring (unless one copy of the black gene mutates back to the spotted form).

In jaguars it is the other way round. Melanism is a dominant gene and the black jaguar only needs one copy in order for it to be black - it can carry the spotted gene (heterozygous). Two black jaguars that both carry the spotted gene can have spotted offspring.

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Skodaboat
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I remember about 10 or 11 years ago whilst I was at college there was a report on the local radio that a large mystery cat had been spotted in our direct vicinity, it was described as having the same characteristics as a leopard. At the time it caused a bit of a panic and there was a rumour that somebody actually shat themselves....

....but you know how these rumours get about?

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candycane from strangers
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Welcome to the boards, yugyug. Allow me to sarcastically compliment you on your grand entrance.

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ConstableDorfl
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All I am saying is that I wouldn't say 100% definitely that there are no big cats in the UK. I think it's possible.
______________________________________________


I don't. Most of the sightings are dogs. The rest are domestic moggies.

A few years ago a British abc 'expert' invited a professional cat trapper over from the States. His concusion? Every pawprint and dead sheep shown him by the cat man was the work of a dog.

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Canuckistan
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quote:
Originally posted by candy from strangers with bird flu:
Welcome to the boards, yugyug. Allow me to sarcastically compliment you on your grand entrance.

Let me also welcome you, yugyug. Now, if I may be so bold, may I ask you something:

Why did you feel the need to insult everyone with your first post? Do you really think this is an appropriate way of introducing yourself?

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candycane from strangers
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Canuckistan, I get the feeling yugyug isn't really intending to return to our lovely board. Or, if he does, it'll be more of the same type of thing. I can't imagine a person calling everyone stupid then coming back and having a rational conversation, though people have surprised me before (not specific people here, just people in general).

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Canuckistan
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I know, CFS. I just had to say something about this bit of asshattery. Couldn't let it stand, is all.

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People need to stop appropriating Jesus as their reason for behaving badly. It's so irritating. (Avril)

Posts: 8429 | From: New York run by the Swiss (Toronto) | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Squoval
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Don't you just love trolls?

JetEd73, Hrtofdrkns, toomuchtimeonmyhands, and yugyug.

Our special idiots.

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I can't believe it's not Square!

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Llewtrah
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by ConstableDorfl:
All I am saying is that I wouldn't say 100% definitely that there are no big cats in the UK. I think it's possible.
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I don't. Most of the sightings are dogs. The rest are domestic moggies.

A few years ago a British abc 'expert' invited a professional cat trapper over from the States. His concusion? Every pawprint and dead sheep shown him by the cat man was the work of a dog.

What amused me was the way the ABC hunters refused to accept they were wrong, even when faced with evidence against big cats. Heck, the trappers put cat pheromones on box traps near to sightings - pheromones that a big cat would find irresistible! The ABC fans had all these photos of mauled sheep and all were classic dog kills. Leopards like to take their kills up into trees so if we have panthers around, our trees ought to be festooned with sheep remains like macabre Xmas trees!

Part of the problem is people won't accept that dogs (man's best friends!) go rogue and kill livestock. Part is wishful thinking - they just want something exotic and mysterious to be on the loose in Britain. I've no doubt that we have had an occasional escaped exotic cat, but not the horde of assorted big cats the crypto gang claim.

Another thing that anooys me is the "hybrid theory". Puma-leopard hybrids are a common explanation for why these cats are not identifiable as a particular species. Maybe these people should visit the museum in Tring, England and see the stuffed puma-leopard hybrid they have there. The few hybrids of that type that survive infancy are prone to dwarfism. Their lack of vigour makes them unlikely to breed (that's if the female hybrids are fertile in the same way as female ligers and tigons).

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Messybeast Cat Resource Archive
Llewtrah's Soapbox

Posts: 2040 | From: Chelmsford, Essex, England | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Rogue1stclass
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by Llewtrah:
quote:
Originally posted by Rogue1stclass:
Well, there isn't going to be a breeding population of black panthers, because black panthers don't breed true and there will be some normal leopards in the mix. None of the claims I've seen thus far identify a normal leopard. Of course, leopards don't have the mystique of panthers.

I'm afraid you have it the wrong way round. Black panthers (leopards) DO breed true. Melanism in leopards is caused by a recessive gene - to be a black leopard, the animal must inherit 2 copies of the gene (i.e. be homozygous). When mated to another black leopard (which must also have 2 copies of the recessive gene in order to be black) only the black genes will be passed on to the offspring.

Spotted leopards may carry the recessive gene for black (i.e. be heterozygous). Two spotted leopards carrying the recessive gene can produce black offspring (which will be homozygous), but 2 black leopards mated together cannot produce spotted offspring (unless one copy of the black gene mutates back to the spotted form).

In jaguars it is the other way round. Melanism is a dominant gene and the black jaguar only needs one copy in order for it to be black - it can carry the spotted gene (heterozygous). Two black jaguars that both carry the spotted gene can have spotted offspring.

Hmmm. You are right.

I might have been thinking of jaguars. Or I might have been talking out of my ass. Either way, I was wrong there.

So I suppose it is possible that there could be a colony of inbred, 150lb, aggressive predators that doesn't leave any solid evidence of its existance.

But I doubt it.

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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Just to show how easy it is to allow your mind to persuade you that you have seen a Rather Exciting Big Cat (because I am a usually sober, not-particularly-excitable type)... I was out for a walk last year in rural-but-densely-populated Surrey when I saw a large black animal loping through a field about 100-150 yards away. There was no-one else around. Instead of thinking "Ah, large black dog", I actually froze for a second or two, thinking that it might be something rather more wild and terrifying. I was surprised that the first connection my mind made was to treat the animal as though it were some be-fanged non-native species: the Beast of Binscombe.

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I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

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dlloyd
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
I don't. Most of the sightings are dogs. The rest are domestic moggies.
There have been a lot of sightings of big cats in the countryside around here.

http://www.scottishbigcats.co.uk/scottishsocietynews.htm

I also know several people who claim to have seen one to and haven't reported it to journalists, so the incidence is probably higher.

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Llewtrah
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by dlloyd:
quote:
I don't. Most of the sightings are dogs. The rest are domestic moggies.
There have been a lot of sightings of big cats in the countryside around here.

http://www.scottishbigcats.co.uk/scottishsocietynews.htm

I also know several people who claim to have seen one to and haven't reported it to journalists, so the incidence is probably higher.

Several years back, I was emailed by a guy in "pretty much the middle of nowhere" who had seen a big non-domestic cat on his land several times and who had no intention of reporting it. He thought it was an illegally owned and illegally released "pet" (suggestion being that it had come over from Ireland on a private boat, laws in parts of Ireland are/were much more relaxed with regard to "dangerous wild animals" as pets). He didn't want his land infested with big cat hunters or the like and his view was "middle of nowhere, plenty of rabbits/foxes, very few humans live or visit here, not farming country ... it isn't harming anyone, might as well let it live out its life in peace."

With his live and let live attitude and not wanting publicity, I was inclined to believe him. He thought it was one very isolated individual dumped miles from anywhere and nil chance of it having anything to breed with.

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Messybeast Cat Resource Archive
Llewtrah's Soapbox

Posts: 2040 | From: Chelmsford, Essex, England | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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