The Real Black Panther

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The most talked about movie in theaters right now is Black Panther, the new Marvel Studios comic book flick. It’s already breaking box office records and has received high critical acclaim, currently sitting at an incredible 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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With so much hype surrounding this groundbreaking film, let's not forget about the animal from which the titular super hero got his name. With just a little research into this awesome creature, it’s easy to see why it would be used to brand an iconic character. Here is the rundown on everything you need to know about the real black panther.


First of all, there’s no such thing as a black panther. Let that sink in. Panthera onca (in Africa and Asia) and Pathera pardus (in the Americas) is actually either a leopard, jaguar or cougar. The term “black panther” doesn’t refer to a specific species. It’s a blanket/umbrella term for any large cat with a black coat. This can also include mountain lions, and in North America it’s commonly used for pumas.

Around the globe, the moniker has even been said to distinguish the length of the animal’s tail, but typically alludes to the hair color. Unlike the super hero’s costume, the cats have spots, which are just hard to see because of the dark fur, unless they’re caught in direct sunlight. This is referred to as “ghost striping,” which sounds like something straight out of the comic book.

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Black panthers are very rare. They’re less fertile than other big cats and more unpredictable and aggressive. Some believe they only come out at night, but they will actually hunt during the day, as well. They can swim, climb and leap, and have great eyesight, hearing, and a strong jaw. Check out the video below to see one of nature's fiercest predators in action.