Sunda Clouded Leopard

Leopard, Sunda Clouded.jpg

Previously considered to be a subspecies of the Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), The Sunda clouded leopard, also known as the Bornean clouded leopard or Diard’s clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa diardi) has recently been recognised as a distinct species. Aside from genetic and anatomical differences, Diard’s clouded leopard can be recognised by its darker, grey or greyish-yellow fur and smaller cloud-like markings. These markings, from which the common name is derived, comprise ellipses partially edged in black, with the insides a darker colour than the background colour of the pelt. The limbs and underbelly are marked with large black ovals, and the back of the neck is conspicuously marked with two black bars. The thickly-furred tail is exceptionally long, often equivalent to the body length, and is boldly marked with black rings. Well adapted to forest life, Diard’s clouded leopard has stout legs and broad paws, which make it excellent at climbing trees and creeping through thick forest. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of clouded leopards is that, in proportion to their body size, they possess the largest canines of all the cats and Diard’s clouded leopard has, on average, even larger and more knife-like canines than Neofelis nebulosa. Indeed, although they are considered to be of an unrelated evolutionary lineage, clouded leopards have independently evolved teeth and jaws that are remarkably similar to the primitive members of the extinct group of sabretoothed cats, such as the 8-10 million year-old, puma-sized Paramachairodus from Europe and Asia.

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