Cougar Evolution and Subspecies
We still have many unanswered questions when it comes to the evolution of the Cougar. It is believed that they originated as part of the feline family about 11 million years ago. It is believed that they were first found to be living in the are of Asia. We don’t have very much information about the Cougar when it comes to the fossil records. That has made it hard to get past just the stage of developing theories when it comes to them and evolution.
Many experts believe that the Cougar moved across the Bering land bridge approximately 8.5 million years ago. Studies of genetic materials show that the Cougar is very closely related genetically to the Cheetah. There is still more than we need to study in order to understand all that has taken place for the Cougar over millions of years. Why were they able to survive when so many other wild cats seem to be at the brink of extinction?
It was once believed that there were 32 subspecies in the world of the Cougar. However, the scientific take on this was all changed after DNA testing became the standard practice. Today we have them identified as 6 subspecies. They include the Argentine Cougar, Costa Rican Cougar, Eastern South American Cougar, North American Cougar, Northern South American Cougar, and Southern South American Puma.
As you can tell from the names, these Cougars are basically classified due to the regions where they live. What is interesting is that at times there will be one captured and it is extremely long distances from home. It isn’t known if these Cougars migrated for food and habitat or if they were moved by humans.
The Argentine Cougar is located in the Western and Central areas. They don’t seem to have too many problems with thriving in this particular location. There are believed to be more of them than have been seen though due to the many areas here where these animals are able to hide.
The Costa Rican Cougar has a harder time thriving due to the huge destruction of the habitat here. There are some efforts in place by the Costa Rican government to prevent such destruction. Yet political red tape often gets in the way of real progress so in the mean time the animals continue to be hunted.
The Eastern South American Cougar have low numbers but there is hope that they are slowly increasing. They are thinner and longer animals and they have a white gruff at the bottom of their chin that looks like a beard. The most popularly known is the North American Cougar. They are the ones typically on display in zoos around the world.
For the Northern South American Cougar living in the mountain ranges can offer some very large prey. These Cougars can get very large if they aren’t hunted as long as there is enough food. Survival of the fittest often comes into place in this particular area.
The Southern South American Puma is the last of the Cougar subspecies. They are very scattered out and in some areas they are believed to be no longer existing. Even so they have been others identified in areas where they weren’t before. This gives credibility to the thought that they have been migrating to new areas. They are highly adaptable creatures and this is one of the reasons they continue to be able to thrive. It also gives us more understanding of why they were able to evolve and survive from millions of years ago through today.