Last Friday I gave you this fabulous feline skull to have a go at identifying:
The flat frontals give the forehead a slope rather than the usual curve we’ve seen in previous cats of this size, making the cranium appear very domed in contrast. The post orbital processes are quite short and gracile (slender). The jaw is quite short while maxilla bone above the canines appears pinched in and the nasals are steep and protruding somewhat. These are features that appear in the genus Leopardus – the South and Central American small spotted cats.
How to distinguish between different species of Leopadus is more of a problem. Daniel Jones picked up on the incredibly robust bone margin of the foramen magnum (the hole the spinal chord goes into), which may be distinctive, but so far I’ve not seen the underside of other small Leopardus species skulls, so I can’t be sure.
All I know is that this is the skull of an Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus (Schreber, 1775), a small and mainly ground-hunting South American forest cat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cats are so difficult to identify!