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Meet Brazil’s Adorable New Wildcat Species

Also known as little spotted cats, tigrillo, tigrinas or tiger cats, it turns out these wild felines are not one but two distinct species

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Four flavors of adorable: A) The new species of southern oncilla, L. guttulus, B) Brazilian tigrina, C) Geoffroy’s cat D) pampas cat. Photo: Projeto Gatos do Mato – Brasil, Current Biology

Brazil just doubled its dose of oncilla cuteness. Also know as little spotted cats, tigrillo, tigrinas or tiger cats, these wild felines are not one but two distinct species—one living in northeastern Brazil and another in southern Brazil.

Kitty researchers writing in the journal Cell Biology discovered this overlooked detail while examining molecular data from tigrina populations throughout the country. It turns out the two tigrina species haven’t been getting friendly with each other for many, many years, but that they have hooked up with two other species of small wildcats, the pampas cat in the north (although that relationship seems to now be ancient history) and the Geoffroy’s cat in the south (an ongoing affair). Hybridization tendencies aside, the differences between the two tigrina populations’ genetics is enough to warrant an official split, the researchers conclude.

If you’re not familiar with the cuteness that is the oncilla, get to know the big catsd with these videos (which, unfortunately, don’t specify whether the feline in question is of the northern or southern variety). Here’s one of a tigrina playing with pine needles:

And here’s a fluffy little baby playing with a string:

More from Smithsonian.com:

Seven Threatened Cats You May Not Know
Photographing the Elusive Jaguar  

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