|Ocelot, Leopardus pardalis|
Leopardus is a genus of spotted small cats mostly native to Middle and South America. Very few range into the southern United States. The genus is considered the oldest branch of the part of the cat family to cross into the Americas, followed by the genera Lynx and Puma. (The jaguar is the other extant cat native to the Americas.) The largest species in Leopardus is the ocelot; most of the other species resemble domestic housecats in size, with the kodkod (L. guigna) being the smallest cat in the Americas. The margay (L. wiedii) is more highly adapted to arboreal life than any other cat in the Americas.
There has been some revision of this branch of Felidae in recent years. Leopardus was previously regarded as a subgenus of the genus Felis. The Pantanal and Pampas cats were previously considered subspecies of the colocolo.
Genetic studies indicate the genus Leopardus forms a distinct clade within the feline subfamily, and first evolved in South America around 10 to 12e million years ago (Mya). Within the genus, two distinct evolutionary lineages appear to exist; one leading to the ocelot, margay, and Andean mountain cat, and the other leading to the remaining species.
- L. pardalis (Linnaeus, 1758) – ocelot
- L. tigrinus (Schreber, 1775) – oncilla, tigrina
- L. guigna (Molina, 1782) – kodkod
- L. colocola (Molina, 1782) – colocolo
- L. wiedii (Schinz, 1821) – margay
- L. geoffroyi (d'Orbigny & Gervais, 1844) – Geoffroy's cat
- L. jacobitus (Cornalia, 1865) – Andean mountain cat
- L. guttulus (Hensel, 1872) southern tigrina
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- Johnson, W.E. et. al. (1998). "Tracking the evolution of the elusive Andean mountain cat (Oreailurus jacobitus) from mitochondrial DNA" (PDF). Journal of Heredity. 89 (3): 227–232. PMID 9656464. doi:10.1093/jhered/89.3.227.
- Kitchener, A.C., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Eizirik, E., Gentry, A., Werdelin, L., Wilting, A. and Yamaguchi, N. (2017). "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group" (PDF). Cat News. Special Issue 11: 76.
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