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Submitted by on Nov 14, 2021

The jaguar is a large felid animal native to the Americas and the sole extant member of the genus Panthera. It has an unique coat with dots that transition to rosettes on the sides and pale yellow to tan colored fur. It is the biggest cat species in the Americas and the third largest in the world, with a body length of up to 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in). Its strong bite allows it to pierce turtle and tortoise carapaces, as well as use an uncommon way of killing: it bites right through the skull of mammalian victims between the ears, delivering a deadly blow to the brain.

During the Early Pleistocene, the jaguar most likely came in the Americas over the land bridge that originally crossed the Bering Strait. Jaguar skeletons discovered in the Americas date from 130,000 years ago. The range of the jaguar now stretches from extreme southern Arizona in the United States, through Mexico and much of Central America, the Amazon rainforest, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

It may be found in both forested and open areas, although its preferred habitat is moist broadleaf forest, wetlands, and forested areas in tropical and subtropical climates. It is a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush apex predator that is good at swimming. It serves a vital function in ecological stabilization and prey population regulation as a keystone species.

Habitat degradation, fragmentation, poaching for body parts trade, and killings in human”wildlife conflict scenarios, notably with ranchers in Central and South America, are all threats to the jaguar. Since 2002, the IUCN Red List has classified it as Near Threatened. Since the late 1990s, the wild population is considered to have decreased. Jaguar conservation priority areas include 51 Jaguar Conservation Units (JCUs), which are vast habitats with at least 50 breeding jaguars. The JCUs are spread over 36 different countries, from Mexico to Argentina.

The jaguar has long been a part of the mythology of many indigenous peoples in the Americas, including the Maya and Aztec civilizations.

In his work Systema Naturae, published in 1758, Carl Linnaeus described the jaguar and gave it the scientific name Felis onca. Several jaguar type specimens were used to designate subspecies throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Based on the geographic origins and skull characteristics of these specimens, Reginald Innes Pocock designated eight subspecies in 1939. Pocock did not have enough zoological specimens to thoroughly analyze their subspecific status, but he expressed concerns about some of them. Based on a comprehensive review of his work, it was determined that just three subspecies should be recognized. The fossil skull was used to describe P. o. palustris.

The jaguar is classified as a member of the Panthera genus, and it shares numerous physical characteristics with the leopard, according to Reginald Innes Pocock (P. pardus). As a result, he came to the conclusion that they are the most closely connected. Morphological and genetic studies show that populations have a clinal north”south variance, but no indication of subspecific differentiation. The gene flow between jaguar populations in Colombia was considerable in the past, according to DNA analysis of 84 jaguar samples from South America. The jaguar has been classified as a monotypic taxon since 2017.

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