Predatory feline genes
Wultsch, Claudia Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York.
- Whole-genome sequencing and big-cat adaptations
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A predator is an organism that captures and feeds on prey organisms for food. Felids are hypercarnivorous predators, primarily consuming the meat of vertebrate species. (Note that animals whose diets consist of more than 70% meat are termed hypercarnivores.) Most felids are terrestrial ambush predators. A few felids pursue prey by chasing it down [for example, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus; Figs. 1 and 2)], whereas others catch it by fishing [such as the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) and the flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps)]. In addition, some felids are arboreal (tree-living) specialists [for example, the margay (Leopardus wiedii) and the clouded leopard (Neofelis species)]. In terms of morphology and physiology, felids have become perhaps the most specialized predators of all carnivores, being able to take down prey animals that are several times their own size. They have powerful and fast-acting bodies adapted for hunting and killing prey, sharp claws used for handling prey, carnassial teeth adapted for cutting flesh, cryptically colored coats, unparalleled vision and hearing abilities adapted for prey detection, and a specialized digestive system that efficiently processes a high-protein diet.
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