These 4 photos were captured in Brazil back in 2013 using a trap camera. Even though leucism is pretty common among wild cats, for unknown reasons, it’s almost unheard of in cougars.

Recently, four camera trap pictures have resurfaced on the interwebs, and turns out, these photos capture the first-ever confirmed case of a wild cougar with leucism.

Although polymorphic phenotypes are common in wild felids, leucism is a rather rare characteristic and consists in the general cleaning of the animal's coat, assigning a white coloration pattern. This characteristic is genetically controlled, with reces-sive inheritance.

We (National Park) present the first record ever of leucism in pumas Puma concolor recorded in wild populations, from (exact location not divulged for the safety of animal) Brazil. This record was documented with a great sampling effort, with camera traps from 2010 to 2016, being registered only in two of the twenty-four sampling stations in 2013.

The record of this rare phenotype will be the baseline for later studies on the genetic basis of leucism and the adaptive relevance of this phenotypic characteristic in wild cat populations.

Adult pumas are uniformly coloured with no body marks. Adult dorsal pelage is usually tan but may appear greyish, reddish, or brownish, and ventral pelage ranges from creamy to white . The tail tip and the back of the ears are brown to black, and the white muzzle is bordered by a black line.

According to Sunquist 2002), temperate pumas tend to have paler, light greyish co-louration, while tropical pumas tend to have brighter, reddish tones. There is no record of any melanistic or leucistic phenotype for this species in wild populations, although albi-nism has been rarely recorded.

Scientists have yet to figure it out why color-changing genes are so rare among these animals. “My best guess is that the distant ancestor of pumas was uniformly colored, and that has been maintained in the species ever since. But that’s just a consequence of the randomness of mutation, the roll of the genetic dice,” told National Geographic.


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