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Déjà Vu

America About To Get Some Jaguars

By 08.21.12

Usually, endangered species stories are lame. It’s some stupid owl or lizard or some other animal that nobody actually cares about.

Not this time. This time an animal actually worth caring about it getting some protected habitat. And if we’re really lucky it’s going to maul a few hikers.

Yes, the jaguar is making its majestic return to America. Believe it or not, historical records indicate that jaguars used to range from coast to coast, as far north as Colorado.

Sadly, human encroachment forced it to stay to the South and eat humans there. Now, they’re getting some space in the US, in an area bigger than Rhode Island (not that that’s very impressive), to stretch out.

But why bother if their range has shifted? The short answer is to encourage evolution.

One theory maintains that peripheral populations are key to maintaining a species’ biodiversity. Species that live on the very edge of the range tend to develop new traits and evolve in different ways, then interbreed with other populations and pass on those useful mutations.

Needless to say the usual crew of miners, ranchers, and people who hate Nature are opposed to this, especially since jaguars are, well, giant, vicious, muscular kitties.

Also, the land in question is in Arizona, so, really, if somebody gets eaten there, they’ll just pass a law saying jaguars have to provide the police with papers upon request or something.

image courtesy Chester Zoo on Flickr


TAGSbiodiversitygiant freaking catsjaguarsscience

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