Six different ‘colour morphs’ of the Asiatic golden cat discovered in India’s Arunachal Pradesh

Golden morph of the Asiatic golden cat. Photo Credit: ZSL

By Zoological Society of London

Six different colour morphs of the elusive Asiatic golden cat have been discovered in Northeast India – with the findings being hailed as “an evolutionary puzzle” – as the world’s greatest number of different coloured wild cat species in one area are reported.

The Indian scientists from ZSL and UCL discovered the colour morphs, during a wide-scale camera trapping study covering both community forests and protected areas across Dibang Valley, Northeast India. 

The study, published on 7 June 2019 in the Ecological Society of America’s journal, Ecology aimed to uncover a greater understanding of human-wildlife interactions in the region but discovered a group of entirely different-looking animals on their camera traps – with an inkling they were all the exact same species.

The finding is said to spark more questions than it answers. However, understanding how this remarkable phenomenon takes hold in a population, may help scientists grasp how quickly species can adapt and evolve to changing environments. This would advise scientists of the resilience of the species to climate change or habitat degradation and destruction.

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