Friday, July 26, 2013

Are Black Pumas Giant Sloths?

This came to me by way of Dale Drinnon’s blog and it turns out to be rather timely.  We have just recognized a likely giant sloth traveling on all fours as expected and close enough to eliminate either a Bear, a Sasquatch, or a Puma for that matter.  Most important though was that its pelt was black.

Better, the shape partially conforms to a Puma provided the legs are underestimated.  Thus it is plausible that many of our puma sightings were not the cat but the Giant Sloth.  That also solves another problem which is our failure to bag one.

Cats are bagged by running dogs on their trail until they go up a tree were they are obviously trapped.  A giant Sloth would not be trapped at all and would quickly traverse to another tree and leave its pursuers well behind.

It is thus quite reasonable to surmise that we have been spotting the Giant Sloth at some distance and merely mistaking the creature for a cat.  It is only close up and personal that you would know otherwise and that is rare and likely fatal.

Black Pumas From Terry Colvin

Posted to my email from Longtime FOZ associate and "Dark puma" witness Terry Colvin:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

I found this piece in Pursuit dealing mountain lions with melanism.


ps: Poor photocopy so there will be garble


In our October 1971 issue we yelled Help! on the question of melanism in pumas (otherwise called cougars. panthers. painters, mountain lions. and heaven knows what else!). We cannot say that we have been deluged with material. but we have received quite Enough to indicate that melanism -the occurrence of black pumas in an otherwise tawny-coloured 'race'-is in flact quite widespread and is possibly increasing. 

Member #210 promptly came through with two references, noting that .. Stanley P. Young and Edward A. Goldman's ~ (Dover Edition, 1964) mentions a couple  of sources  black pumas. A specific case of just such a cat having been killed in 1843 in the carandahy River section of Brazil is cited. as well as a vague reference to specimens of South American pumas (black, of course) being taken 'from time to time'. In Victor H. Cahalane's Mammals Qf North Ameril (Macmillan Co., 1961) this great one liner is found on page 272: 'Melanistic or black cougars are known; cougars of Florida seem to run strongly to that "freak" color'." 

Our major source of information, however, is Bruce S. Wright, who is Director of the Northeastern Wild-life  Station of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. N.B. Mr. Wright has written one book about pumas, entitled The Ghost  of  North America, and is at work on a revised edition. He cites a book by William Thomas. Great cats I Have Met; Adventures ill Two  Hemispheres (Alpha Publishing Co .• Boston. 1896. p. 75-76), and in addition was kind enough to send us a copy of a paper he presented at the 36th North American Wildlife Conference in March, 1971, the Symposium on the Native Cats of North America. In this he devotes a section to melanism. as follows: 

"No black specimen of Felis concolor has ever been collected in North America [Unless you count Costa Rica], but one has been shot in Brazil (Young and Goldman. 1946, p. 58). 

The repeated mention of black specimens seen in daylight at close range demands some explanation. I once believed they were caused by the specimens being wet. To test this I went to Vancouver: Island and followed a government cougar hunter until he killed a large male. I took the fresh hide and suspended it by its edges and filled it with water and left in overnight. The next morning I photographed it in color from all angles. I could not make it appear black. 

"My next thought was that they must be backlighted. However. a check on the position of the sun at the time of these reports proved this theory ,untenable.

"I have now no alternative but to accept the word of the eye-witness that there are black specimens of Felis concolor in northeastern North America and that they are not particularly rare (about 7% in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.)"  

Mr. Wright appends a table detailing no less than  20 black pumas seen at close range in daylight 'in  New Brunswick. Quebec, and Nova Scotia between  September 1. 1951 and August 2. 1970, and notes that  as many more were not included because the circumstances were such that positive 'identification' of  the color was impossible, though he adds "There is no  reasonable reason for disregarding these descriptions". 

We also asked Lennie Rue -one of the very great  naturalists in this country; see National Wildlife and  International Wildlife for examples of his animal photography - if he had any references to black pumas.

Lennie has a truly incredible library 'on natural  history. with emphasis on North American mammals.  but could not come up with a single reference. On the '  other hand, he pointed out that there is a claim from  Borneo for a black Clouded Leopard (Panther'a nubulosa)  believed by many to be extinct, and that there is even  a book called The Black Lion! We know of ~any albino tigers; has anyone references on black ones? Black leopards are quite common, and black jaguars are not  rare, though most seem to come from a fairly limited  area in the Guyana Massif. '

And, just for the record, one of our subscribers  tells us that some five years ago he talked with a  chap from El Salvador who stated calmly that he  occasionally hunted Bengal Tigers-"Tigres Bengalis"...  across the border in Honduras (not British :Honduras);  he said they had multiplied there since some escaped  years ago from a circus, so. if someone tells you he  hunted Bengal tigers in Honduras (provided you can  get into that country safely -and out again). he is  not necessarily a liar! 

Terry W. Colvin
Ladphrao (Bangkok), Thailand
Pran Buri (Hua Hin), Thailand
Historical print of a dark-coloured puma, similar in most respects to to the more modern sightings,

[I probably DO need to reiterate, reports of known species do not qualify as subjects for Cryptozoology, whether you admit to the colour phase they  come in or not. or whether they seen are outside their normal range or not. And also I should mention that black jaguars are known to cross over the border of the US and Mexico occasionally.     -DD.]

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