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Ancient Jaguars

Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#1

A lot is known about the ancient lions and tigers, but jaguars have a very intriguing fossil record as well. In here we are to post information and new discoveries regarding ancient jaguar species and subspecies.


Panthera onca mesembrina, Pleistocene of South America

Skull:


*This image is copyright of its original author



The size of P. o. mesembrina:

"Body Mass estimation. The size of the m1 in the felid is the classic best gauge of body mass (Legendre and Roth, 1988, VanValkenburgh, 1990). We calculated the body mass (BM) of F. o. mesembrina using the m1 measurements, following the proposal of VanValkenburgh (1990) with the formula:


*This image is copyright of its original author


We determinated a body mass of 231.21 kg for “Panthera onca mesembrina”. This value is well within of the range of the males of Panthera atrox (Wheeler and Jefferson, 2009), whereas the values are much smaller in Panthera onca (Christiansen and Harris, 2005, Prevosti and Vizcaíno, 2006). Further, this body mass is within the range of largest felids, such as Smilodon fatalis and S. populator (Christiansen and Harris, 2005).

Recently, Prevosti and Martin (2014) made a mass calculation of “P. onca mesembrina” based on some unpublished fossil remains. They obtained values between 190 kg to 243 kg, based on the length of m1 of different individuals (see Prevosti and Martin, 2014: Supplementary data 1). It is worth mentioning that the living P. onca shows values near 100 kg (102 kg sensu Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002), and exceptionally upper values of 158 kg (Seymour, 1989). Further, the large extinct North American jaguar P. onca augusta, was 15 to 20% larger than living jaguar, being less than 190 kg (Seymour, 1989).

In this way, the mass calculation for “P. o. mesembrina” obtained by Prevosti and Martin (2014) and present paper points that the Patagonian Panthera was a felid that duplicates the size of living or extinct jaguars.

Additionally, based on body mass determination, it is possible to calculate the focused prey size of “P. o. mesembrina” on the basis of the following formula (Hemmer, 2004):



*This image is copyright of its original author
"
Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...8317301094


*This image is copyright of its original author

Reconstruction by Roman Uchytel
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#2
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 03:08 AM by OncaAtrox )

It's also worth pointing that remains and skulls of mesembrina have been mistaken in the past for American lion skulls due to their large size, leading to confusion as to whether the latter was able to colonize South America.
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#3

Comparison between the Pleistocene South American jaguar next to human:


*This image is copyright of its original author

It was the size of a modern African lion or Bengal tiger.

Credits to Paleozoo Brazil.
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#4

Jaguar subspecies distribution during the Pleistocene in South America:


*This image is copyright of its original author

Source: Late Quaternary Megafaunal Extinctions in South America: Chronology, environmental changes and human impacts at regional scales., by Natalia Villavicencio.
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Brazil Dark Jaguar Offline
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#5
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 05:44 AM by Dark Jaguar )

@OncaAtrox 


So the ancient jaguar that resided south america was larger than the one that resided north america the Panthera Onca Augusta. is that it??
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#6
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 05:50 AM by OncaAtrox )

(06-19-2020, 05:44 AM)Dark Jaguar Wrote: @OncaAtrox 


So the ancient jaguar that resided south america was larger than the one that resided north america the Panthera Onca Augusta. is that it??

Correct, although the terms south and north American jaguars are actually deceiving because both subspecies inhabited both South and North America at the same time, but augusta probably didn't surpass 200 kg in weight while mesembrina is quoted as reaching 243. But it seems like mesembrina was the only subspecies that flourished up until the Holocene in the Patagonia.
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Brazil Dark Jaguar Offline
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#7
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 05:58 AM by Dark Jaguar )

Both must have been incredible beasts. That is the size of a big wild male Lion/Tiger. Imagine how majestic they must have looked.

Imagine the size of their heads.
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#8

(06-19-2020, 05:57 AM)Dark Jaguar Wrote: Both must have been incredible beasts. That is the size of a big  wild male Lion/Tiger. Imagine how majestic they must have looked.

Imagine the size of their heads.

The Patagonian panther was no joke, this were the animals it was preying on:


*This image is copyright of its original author

There is some debate going on as to whether the remains of a huge cat from Patagonia belong to mesembrina or to the American lion (they were that big), the initial article I posted discusses this further, but I'm highly skeptical those are Panthera atrox remains since no other remains of the species has been found in other areas of South America.
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Brazil Dark Jaguar Offline
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#9
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 06:15 AM by Dark Jaguar )

Those are some massive preys haha.

These ancient animals are very tricky to be fully unveiled specially when there are no enough skulls, skeletons and traces evidences left in modern days.

If these ancient jags inhabited the paleocene or miocene they could lived with the likes of the Titanoboa or Purussaurus Brasiliensis.
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#10

(06-19-2020, 06:14 AM)Dark Jaguar Wrote: Those are some massive preys haha.

These ancient animals are very tricky to be fully unveiled specially when there are no enough skulls, skeletons and traces evidences left in modern days.

If these ancient jags inhabited the paleocene or miocene they could lived with the likes of the Titanoboa or Purussaurus Brasiliensis.

Unfortunately, jaguars reached the Americas long after those times so they didn't cross paths, but I'm the most intrigued about is to know their interspecific interactions with the other major felids they were sympatric with, more specifically the American lion, Smilodon populator and fatalis, as well as Homotherium serum. I wonder how so many big cats could co-exist together, especially when there were other large carnivores such as bears and canids living alongside them as well. Were jaguars more subordinates to these cats or was there mutual respect? Did the lions and jaguars hybridize at some points? So many questions.
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Brazil Dark Jaguar Offline
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#11

I think its good the jags didn't cross paths with those reptiles behemoths. Laughing

I think the Black Caiman is related to the Purussaurus Brasiliensis, their skull look a bit similar. But its just me you know.

America is a massive continent. One thing I can tell is that if these animals you mentioned coexisted at same time, same era. America was a stage of battles of giants regarding felids, ursudae and others for sure.
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Brazil Dark Jaguar Offline
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#12
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 07:13 AM by Dark Jaguar )

@OncaAtrox  If the american lion lived in groups like the modern days african/asian lions they could have had a bit of upper hand towards the opponents more often in terms of interspecific interactions and competition for food.

Do you know if the American lion were group felids or solitary felids??
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#13
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 07:23 AM by OncaAtrox )

(06-19-2020, 07:13 AM)Dark Jaguar Wrote: @OncaAtrox  If the american lion lived in groups like the modern days african/asian lions they could have had a bit of upper hand towards the opponents more often in terms of interspecific interactions and competition for food.

Do you know if the American lion were group felids or solitary felids??

That is still contended, from what we have recovered from places like La Brea in California the fossils gathered from American lions were too spread apart to suggest they were stuck in the tar pits deposits in groups, but there are other reasons that could potentially explain this, I think @tigerluver could tell us more about it since he studies ancient felids.

Nonetheless, the American lion should've still been larger than P.o.mesembrina on average and definitely on the absolutes so regardless they still had the upper hand. Smilodon populator also outsized the jaguar, but Smilodon fatalis and Homotherium serum were in the jaguar's weight range and could've presented a more balanced competition.
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Australia Richardrli Offline
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#14

A few questions from me

1) How can we be so sure that mesembrina was actually larger than augusta? Any specific measurements of bones/skulls to compare? I have no agenda, just curious

2) What's the current situation regarding the confusion of these Pleistocene jaguars with Panthera atrox? Especially in South America how many of these speculative mesembrina remains are possibly/likely to be Atrox? Again no agenda, just want to know

3) Where exactly did the jaguar species originate? In Europe or somewhere in Asia?
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Canada OncaAtrox Offline
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#15
( This post was last modified: 06-19-2020, 08:09 AM by OncaAtrox )

(06-19-2020, 07:39 AM)Richardrli Wrote: A few questions from me

1) How can we be so sure that mesembrina was actually larger than augusta? Any specific measurements of bones/skulls to compare? I have no agenda, just curious

2) What's the current situation regarding the confusion of these Pleistocene jaguars with Panthera atrox? Especially in South America how many of these speculative mesembrina remains are possibly/likely to be Atrox? Again no agenda, just want to know

3) Where exactly did the jaguar species originate? In Europe or somewhere in Asia?

These are good questions! First off, the initial post from this thread discusses the morphological differences between mesembrina and augusta and the researchers estimated their weights based off the skull and overall skeleton measurements they gathered from both subspecies using a formula (the formula is posted above). It's worth pointing that the fossils themselves are stated in the article to be unpublished so we don't have access to them, only they have. The entire article is this one and they go into more detail about the specifics of the equations used to determine body mass for both species as well as their prey items: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...8317301094

Also, colleague @epaiva had shared with us before this claim of maximum weight for augusta in the edge of extinction thread from a different source:


*This image is copyright of its original author


Notice that the difference between that estimation and the one gathered from the article is 20 kg, 190 to 210 kg. So regardless of the data used, augusta appears to present constant lower values than mesembrina.

Your second question is also touched upon in the article. The researches claim that the other Patagonia fossil remains could be confidently be inferred as belonging to atrox due to skulls and some other biological traces such as a claw and fur that present similarities with atrox remains in North America. This doesn't disprove the previously stated size calculations for mesembrina since it is coming from the same paper, especially since they described skull differences between atrox and mesembrina in detail to sustain why they made the claims that such remains belonged to the lion and not the jaguar.

Finally, jaguars most likely originated in Central Asia from a clade of African pantherines from whom leopards and lions also had their roots, then spread to Europe and eventually reached the Americas. I will be covering the European jaguar and jaguar evolution more in-depth in future posts.
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