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Six different Colour morphs of Asiatic golden cat discovered in Arunachal

Date: 14 June 2019 Tags: Biodiversity

Scientists from Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have discovered six colour morphs of the golden cat in Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. It shows that golden is no longer the only colour elusive Asiatic golden cat can be associated with. It is claimed to be first case of world’s greatest number of different-colored wild cat species ever reported in one area.

Colour morphs: They are basically occurrence of two or more discrete colour forms of animal within population, due to genetic mutation. For example- Black panther is color morph of common leopard.

Six Colour Coats

  • Its coat comes in six colour in Arunachal Pradesh viz. cinnamon, gray, melanistic, ocelot and tightly rosetted apart from regular golden colour.
  • These six colour morphs are thought to arise from random genetic mutations in Asiatic Golden Cats and take hold in population through natural selection.
  • The variation in coat colour provides it with several ecological benefits such as occupying different habitats at different elevations and providing camouflage while preying.

Asiatic golden cat

  • It is medium-sized wild cat native to the northeastern Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Catopuma temminckii.
  • Distribution: It is found across eastern Nepal through north-eastern India to Indonesia. Bhutan and China are known to have two morphs of golden cat — cinnamon and  other with markings similar to the ocelot, a small wild cat found in the Americas.
  • Conservation Status: It is listed as near threatened on Red List of threatened species of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).