Breaking News: New Cat Species Discovered!
You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?
Scientists have discovered a new species of leopard. Or more accurately, they have discovered that what was once considered to be one species is actually two species. The new species lives on Borneo, a huge island in Southeast Asia. Previously it was thought that it was the same as the mainland leopard, genetic studies show they have been apart for about one and a half million years. Granted this really doesn’t mean a whole lot, they look pretty much the same and could certainly breed, just one of those scientific tidbits that get us science geeks excited. Handsome beast, isn’t he? And just look at those spots, my calico is practically spitting with jealousy.
Speaking of cats…yes, the reader’s worst fears have been realized…cat post! It’s my blog and if I want to blog about cats instead of Bush, I can. At least until Patriot Act IV, a little known provision of which will require all blogs at all times to be pro war and pro Bush. So in no particular order, are a few facts about these amazing animals, mostly culled form the depths of my brain. It can get pretty murky down there, so if I am remembering anything wrong, let me know in a comment.
Cats are a highly evolved animal, far more highly evolved than humans for example. About the only thing that has evolved on humans the past few million years is the swelling on the end of our spinal cords, and the jury is still out on whether or not that is a useful trait for an animal to have. Otherwise humans are basically a tree rat grown to large size and crudely adapted to walking upright. In contrast almost every aspect of a cat’s anatomy is finely tuned and adapted, they are the ultimate ambush predator. Cats are also the most widely distributed animal on Earth: from the sub Arctic to the deepest tropical jungle there are cats living in every type of environment. Only humans inhabit more ecosystems, but if we had to inhabit them naked, the cats would win hands down.
It was thought for some time that domestic cats weren’t terribly bright and that they were colour blind. More modern research has shown that neither is true, cats however are very difficult to motivate in an experimental setting. Unlike a certain other animal that will roll over and play dead at an experimenter’s slightest whim. Yes, cats have better memories and better problem solving abilities than the d-word animal. So while their eyes are far more adapted to the dark than ours, they can also see muted colours in the daylight. At night vision though, cats are Vikings. An overcast moonless night, which to us would almost be pitch black, to a cat is the same as a full moon in a clear sky. For all practical purposes, cats can see in the dark.
Cats also have excellent communication skills, a cat can make over 100 distinct vocalizations, the d-word animal can only manage about 20. It is thought this evolved because cats are solitary territorial predators, with very dangerous offensive weapons. Being such, it is important they not get injured fighting with other cats. (With some cats, this apparently still doesn’t work…looking pointedly at the orange striped vet bill generator laying innocently on the bed.) My calico however has advanced communication skills. When I really tee her off and she wants to make sure I understand how completely unacceptable my behaviour has been, she waits till morning, stands on me and waits for me to wake up…then pees on me. This has only happened twice, now I am very careful not to offend her.
(The above image of the Borneo Spotted Leopard is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image. And yes, I made that up about the Patriot Act IV.)