Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the #1 movie in America, but this isn’t about the Marvel superhero. It’s also not about the political party formed in the 1960s. Smithsonian took the opportunity of the movie’s opening to tell us some fun facts about the big black cats.
When I was young, just the word “panther” meant a black big cat. Bagheera from The Jungle Book was the most well-known panther. Panthera is a genus that includes lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards- what we call “big cats.” Strangely, mountain lions, which are called panthers in Florida, are also big cats but do not belong to the Panthera genus. The cats we now refer to as black panthers are actually leopards or jaguars that are black. These melanistic cats are the result of recessive genes in leopards and dominant genes in jaguars. Smithsonian tells us all about black panthers, and compares their predatory skills with those of the Marvel superhero in a list of fun facts (plus videos) about the real black panthers.
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