Depending on region, they are also known as cougar, puma, painter, 'red dog', catamount, or panther.
Cougar was a term first used by the French, borrowed from Native American tribes on the East Coast of the United States. Puma was a term more commonly used in South America, and is sometimes translated to 'red dog' or 'painter' depending on who you ask. Catamount is an abbreviation for "cat of the mountains," and was first used by trappers in the early 1800s. Today, many people believe that catamounts are a seperate species of cat unknown to modern science, and are usually described as cougar-like in build but solid black in coloration. Cryptozoologists around the world are finding more and more evidence of these cats, including reported attacks on livestock and even people!
It's most probable that these cryptid cats are actually mountain lions with a genetic trait known as melanism.
'Panther' was a name given mountain lions much later on, possibly as a result of the black cat sightings. Panther is a generic term used for just about any member of the cat family with a solid-colored pelt. They are not a species unto themselves.
English settlers believed that only female mountain lions ever ventured down from their dens, and that the males were too fierce to kill, hence the reason all pelts the Native Americans traded them lacked manes.
Next to the jaguar, they are the largest cat in the Americas, and range from the tip of South America all the way up through Canada and Alaska.
Interestingly enough, they are more closely-related to cheetahs than any other cat.
Pound for pound, they can jump higher than any other mammal on earth, reaching distances of over 30 feet in a horizontal leap, and well over 18 vertically. This particular cat (named Chinook) is sitting on a legde which is about ten or tweleve feet above the floor of her enclosure, and made the jump from a complete stand-still. It was very impressive to see!
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