Sky Island’s Biggest CatsM.M. Sullivan
The Sky Islands of southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico are home to North Americas two largest cats: the jaguar and the cougar. The two are believed to share a common ancestor in the pseudaelurus — a prehistoric felid that is widely considered to be the precursor to all modern cats — but they are far from the same. For instance, the jaguar is the only “big cat” (meaning, of the same genus as lions and tigers) in North America and has a powerful roar, whereas the cougar is more closely related to an ordinary house cat and can purr, but is more known for its tell-tale screech. Check out what else sets these feisty felines apart.
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Although the numbers seem to indicate that cougars are the larger of the two species, jaguars have a much greater muscle mass and a more powerful bite. But strength isn’t everything — while cougars thrive in North America, jaguars are not as adaptable and their numbers are declining, mostly due to habitat loss and poaching. Find out what you can do to help preserve the jaguar’s Sky Island habitat right here.