Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Are you sure that isn't a Bornean Bay Cat?

I saw news reports today about the discovery of a possible new mammal species. If true, this is quite remarkable.

New species are discovered all the time, but they are generally tiny little creepy crawlies or microbes that are of little interest to anyone other than the scientists who discover them. The discovery of a new furry mammal, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

As soon as I saw a picture of this as yet unclassified mammal, the obvious question which comes to mind is: Are you sure it isn't a Bornean Bay Cat (Catopuma badia) or an undiscovered subspecies of the Bornean Bay Cat? My reasons for asking this question are due to the following similarities between the two creatures:

  • both found in Borneo
  • both are mammals
  • both are similar sizes
  • both have reddish-brown fur
  • the new creature has been described as 'probably a carnivore'
  • both have small ears, pointed snout, long tail (compare this picture of the Bay Cat and this picture of the 'new' species)
  • the new creature looks like a cat
  • both are extremely rare
I've read several news reports and none have mentioned the Bornean Bay Cat. I'm surprised by this because it's an obvious first guess!

Update 7/12/2005: Here are some links to news stories about the new discovery: World Wildlife Fund, Cryptomundo and Cryptomundo again.

1 comment:

Michiel van der Blonk said...

1) Of course they don't mention this, because it would break down the 'excitement' of the news. It is probably mentioned by the biologist as "but of course, it could also just be a cat". Ah. Bummer.
2) In the picture I think that tail looks mighty big and thick, do those cats actually have such tails? The other picture seems like a normal 'cat-tail'.