Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Species Declared: Clouded Leopard On Borneo And Sumatra

Date:
March 15, 2007
Source:
World Wildlife Fund
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that the clouded leopard found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is an entirely new species of cat. The secretive rainforest animal was originally thought to be the same species as the one found in mainland Southeast Asia.

Bornean clouded leopard Neofelis diardi Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Indonesia. Bornean clouded leopard (neofelis diardi) Kalimantan and Sumatra, Indonesia.
Credit: Image courtesy of World Wildlife Fund

Scientists have discovered that the clouded leopard found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is an entirely new species of cat. The secretive rainforest animal was originally thought to be the same species as the one found in mainland Southeast Asia.

Genetic analysis conducted at the U.S. National Cancer Institute shows that the difference between the two clouded leopard species is comparable to the differences between other large cat species like lions, tigers, and jaguars. Scientists believe the new species of clouded leopard diverged from the mainland population some 1.4 million years ago.

"Genetic research results clearly indicate that the clouded leopards of Borneo and Sumatra should be considered a separate species," said Dr Stephen O'Brien, Head of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, U.S. National Cancer Institute. "DNA tests highlighted around 40 differences between the two species."

The results of the genetic study are supported by separate research on geographical variation in the clouded leopard, based mainly on fur patterns and coloration of skins held in museums and collections.

"The moment we started comparing the skins of the mainland clouded leopard and the leopard found on Borneo and Sumatra, it was clear we were comparing two different species," said Dr Andrew Kitchener, from the Department of Natural Sciences, National Museums Scotland and lead author of the scientific paper that described the new species. "It's incredible that no one has ever noticed these differences."

The new clouded leopard species is generally darker than the mainland species, has small cloud markings, many distinct spots within the cloud markings, grayer fur, and a double dorsal stripe. Clouded leopards from the mainland have large clouds on their skin with fewer, often faint, spots within the cloud markings, and they are lighter in color, with a tendency toward tawny-colored fur and a partial double dorsal stripe.

"Who said a leopard can never change its spots? For over a hundred years we have been looking at this animal and never realized it was unique," said Adam Tomasek, head of WWF's Borneo and Sumatra program. "The fact that Borneo's top predator is now considered a separate species further emphasizes the uniqueness of the island and the importance of conserving the Heart of Borneo."

Clouded leopards are the biggest predators on Borneo. Some grow to be as large as a small panther, and have the longest canine teeth relative to body size of any cat. Sumatran tigers are the largest predators on Sumatra.

Between 5,000 and 11,000 clouded leopards are estimated to live on Borneo. The total number in Sumatra could be in the range of 3,000 to 7,000 individuals. However, further studies are needed to obtain better population data. Habitat destruction is the cat's main threat.

The last great forest home of the Bornean Clouded Leopard is the Heart of Borneo, a wild, mountainous region of rainforest the size of Kansas. WWF recently released a report showing that scientists had identified at least 52 new species of animals and plants over the past year on Borneo.

Last month in Bali (Indonesia), the ministers of the three Bornean governments - Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia - signed an historic Declaration to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Wildlife Fund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

World Wildlife Fund. "New Species Declared: Clouded Leopard On Borneo And Sumatra." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070315075842.htm>.
World Wildlife Fund. (2007, March 15). New Species Declared: Clouded Leopard On Borneo And Sumatra. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070315075842.htm
World Wildlife Fund. "New Species Declared: Clouded Leopard On Borneo And Sumatra." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070315075842.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins