FunNature & AnimalFeline stripes and spots change

Feline stripes and spots change

manchas-felinosThestripes and spots on feline fur evolvequickly, leading to avariety of patterns that help these animals to better camouflage themselves in their habitat, as suggested by a British study from the University of Bristol published in the journalProceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers examined the markings on the sides of35 species of wild catsTo understand what drives the evolution of their variations, and by linking them to a mathematical model of pattern development, they recorded detailed differences in the visual appearance of the felines. Among other things, the scientists discovered thatfelines that lived in dense habitatss, in trees, and were active under reduced light conditions, were more likely to developcomplex or particularly irregular patterns. This suggests that detailed aspects of the patterns evolved for camouflage.

The research also explains why, for example,black leopardsare common but black cheetahs are unknown. Unlike cheetahs, leopards live in a wide variety of habitats and have varied behavior patterns. The existence of several environmental niches that different individuals of the species can exploit allows atypical colors and patterns to become stable within a population.

Although the researchers established a clear link between environment and patterns, the study also highlights some anomalies. For example, cheetahs have developed or maintained spotty patterns despite a strong preference for open habitats, while numerous felines, such asthe bay cat and the flathead cathavesmooth coats despite their preference for closed environments. The reasons are still unknown.

The study also showed thatfew species of cats have vertical stripes. Of the thirty species examined, only thetigersThey exhibited had vertical patterns, and these were not associated with a grass habitat as might be expected. However, I am not preventing tigers from camouflaging themselves very well.

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