Red tigrina
The holotype specimen (right) beside a tigrina specimen (left)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Leopardus
Species:
L. narinensis
Binomial name
Leopardus narinensis
Ruiz-García et al., 2023

Leopardus narinensis, also called the red tigrina, Nariño cat, and Galeras cat by the scientists who discovered it, is a putative species of small wild cat in the genus Leopardus. It was described in 2023, based on a single skin collected in 1989.[1]

Etymology

The specific epithet narinensis refers to the Nariño Department in southern Colombia, where the skin was collected. The proposed common names "Nariño cat" and "Galeras cat" also refer to where it was found (the Galeras volcano in the Nariño Department), while "red tigrina" refers to its markedly reddish coloring.[1]

Taxonomy and phylogeny

The skin was first collected in 1989 and donated to a Colombian national institute, which later transferred its biological collections to the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, where it remained classified as an ocelot skin until 2001, when Manuel Ruiz-García noticed it while searching for jaguar and puma specimens. He recognized it as being a different species and, when other authorities on South American cats could not identify it, spent the next two decades researching the skin.[2] The final paper was published in June of 2023.[1]

The red tigrina is classified as a member of the genus Leopardus, the small spotted cats of South America.[1]

A scientific paper published only two months later, in August 2023, considered the holotype of L. narinensis to be a specimen of L. tigrinus based on morphological comparison.[3]

Phylogeny

Genetic analyses indicate that the Nariño cat diverged from other Leopardus species about 1.3–1.0 million years ago. Both its nuclear and mitochondrial DNA are noted to be different from every known species of cat. In those genetic tests, it was consistently recovered as a sister taxon to the kodkod-Geoffroy's cat clade.[1][2]

Cladogram of L. narinensis' position in the genus:[1]

Leopardus

Leopardus colocolo

Leopardus wiedii

Leopardus pardalis

Leopardus tigrinus

Leopardus jacobita

Leopardus guigna

Leopardus geoffroyi

Leopardus narinensis

Characteristics

The Galeras cat is, like other tigrinas, a small spotted cat, but the base color of its fur is more reddish than in other tigrinas. The rosettes are black but with even more intensely red coloring on the inside. The top of the head and the dorsal crest are darker. The body is shorter and more robust, and the head is rounder and wider, the face flatter. The coat is denser and woollier.[1]

Distribution and habitat

The holotype and only specimen was collected from the páramo of the Galeras volcano in southern Colombia, 3,100 metres (10,200 ft) above sea level. The region has a high level of endemism due to isolation during the climatic changes at the end of the Pleistocene.[1][2]

It has not been recorded by the camera traps that have been present in southern Colombia since 2018, and the species may already be nearly (or even totally) extinct.[1][4]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ruiz-García, Manuel; Pinedo-Castro, Myreya; Shostell, Joseph Mark (2023). "Morphological and Genetics Support for a Hitherto Undescribed Spotted Cat Species (Genus Leopardus; Felidae, Carnivora) from the Southern Colombian Andes". Genes. 14 (6): 1266. doi:10.3390/genes14061266. PMC 10298493. PMID 37372446.
  2. ^ a b c Mariana Sofía Díaz Sanjuan (6 July 2023). "Enigmático y escurridizo: científicos hacen historia con el hallazgo de una nueva especie de felino en Colombia" [Enigmatic and elusive: scientists make history with the discovery of a new species of cat in Colombia]. Pesquisa Javerania (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 9 July 2023. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  3. ^ Astorquiza, J. Milena; Noguera-Urbano, Elkin A.; Cabrera-Ojeda, Christian; Cepeda-Quilindo, Belisario; González-Maya, José F.; Eizirik, Eduardo; Bonilla-Sánchez, Alejandra; Buitrago, Diana Lucía; Pulido-Santacruz, Paola; Ramírez-Chaves, Héctor E. (2023). "Distribution of the northern pampas cat, Leopardus garleppi , in northern South America, confirmation of its presence in Colombia and genetic analysis of a controversial record from the country". Mammalia. doi:10.1515/mammalia-2022-0114. S2CID 261342106.
  4. ^ Anderson, Natali (7 August 2023). "New Cat Species Discovered in Museum Collection is Probably Already Extinct". Sci News. Retrieved 8 August 2023.