The 8 Cats of the Leopardus Lineage
The Leopardus lineage consists of eight small spotted cats in the Leopardus genus, which are distributed throughout Central and South America, also known as the Ocelot group.
These cats have 36 chromosomes instead of 38 as per all the other Felidae species.
The Felidae ancestors of the Ocelot or Leopardus lineage originated 8 MYA (million years ago) and initially evolved into two species in North America. Later during the second ice age of 2-3 MYA cats migrated over the Panama land bridge to South America, and the Ocelot group diversified further to the eight species of today.
Leopardus Lineage Cats - Classification
In scientific classification (taxonomy) the small wild cats of the Leopardus lineage belong to the cat family Felidae and the small cat subfamily Felinae.
The higher and lower classifications of this group are as follows:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)
Species: Leopardus pardalis (Ocelot)
Species: Leopardus geoffroyi (Geoffroy’s Cat)
Species: Leopardus jacobita (Andean Cat)
Species: Leopardus wiedii (Margay)
Species: Leopardus colocola (Pampas Cat)
Species: Leopardus tigrinus (Northern Tiger Cat)
Species: Leopardus guttulus (Southern Tiger Cat)
Species: Leopardus guigna (Guiña or Kodkod)
Note: 'Lineage' is not a taxonomic unit, it is a means to categorize closely related species into evolutionary groups.
The eight cats of the Leopardus genus are Ocelot, Geoffroy's Cat, Andean Cat, Margay, Pampas Cat, Northern & Southern Tiger Cats and Guiña.
5. Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola)
Pampas Cat Classification, Conservation and Facts
Update 2017: As per the revised Felidae taxonomy - the correct spelling of the Latin name is Leopardus colocola (previously colocolo).
6. Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus)
Northern Tiger Cat / Oncilla Classification, Conservation and Facts
7. Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus)
Leopardus Lineage Cat Quiz
Click through on the information links under each cat image above to find the answers to this quiz. Good luck!
1. Which is by far the largest cat in the group, with the next in size only half its weight?
2. Which of these cats is called the small cat version of the snow leopard?
3. Which cat is the most endangered?
4. Which of these cats live in trees and can hold on to branches with its hind feet?
5. Which cat has three types of pelage (fur) pattern?
6. Which is the smallest of the cats?