Caturday felid trifecta: Lynx kittens, Amur leopard cubs, and a cowboy kitten

November 6, 2010 • 4:54 am

The Minnesota zoo recently saw the debut of lynx kittens (Lynx canadensis), born May 13. Look at the size of those paws (which reminds me of a joke):

Amur leopard cubs (Panthera pardus orientalis) at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Ashford, UK (warning: cheesy music).

And a mammal (Felis catus) riding a turtle, or, as the Brits call it, a “tortoise”:

h/t: Mike Natt for the cowboy kitten

35 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: Lynx kittens, Amur leopard cubs, and a cowboy kitten

      1. This is not the correct answer, but it is curious. Nearly all cats, from tabbies to lions have tiny little peg of a vestigial premolar directly behind their canines (both upper and lower.

        Lynxes and bobcats don’t have even a hint that there was ever a tooth there. Why? Dr. Coyne (Feline Man)can probably answer this one easily. My guess is that the great Ice Age cats evolved later than most and had managed to complete the discarding of the unnecessary tooth. They also lost most of their tail, which most cats find very useful. Why that? Did other short-tailed cats also lose the tooth?

        1. Just for the record, I was responding to John Stackpole’s question, not to MGG’s suggestion, and my first statement (that this is not the right answer to his question) was a disclaimer for my statement that might suggest that I thought the loss of teeth was why the names of the cats were different.

        2. Is cold a factor perhaps? But this doesn’t seem to make sense when tigers & leopards are happy to live in Siberia. Is it to do with how they hunt, or rather how the ancestoral lynx hunted? Smilodons, Homotheriums et al. (machairodonts) were short-tailed too of course.

        3. “They also lost most of their tail, which most cats find very useful. Why that?”

          As in, what purpose? Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you are asking, but that phrasing plus “complete the discarding of the unnecessary tooth” makes me think you are implying that evolutionary change has a “purpose” – instead of that a mutation or several mutations resulted in the felines being tailless yet still being able to survive and reproduce even without a tail.

  1. Uhm … it’s not just the Brits that call it a tortoise. That’s a tortoise.

    Sorry, pet peeve of mine turtle =/= tortoise.

    Also, that was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

    1. Turtles, tortoises, & terrapins–all common labels used slightly differently in different countries. I agree that the animal in question is a ‘tortoise’ in the US as well.

  2. Americans would call that a tortoise, too. What the British do that’s weird is call terrestrial, domed turtles that aren’t in the family Testudinidae “tortoises” as well. Totally not cladistic.

    ocean = turtle
    fresh water = terrapin
    terrestrial = tortoise

    ocean = sea turtle
    Testudinidae = tortoise
    everything else = turtle
    Malaclemys terrapin = terrapin, species to which the Algonquian name originally applied

    I believe the British used tortoise for everything until they adopted “terrapin”. The American usage is probably taking over, as scientists and hobbyists use it.

  3. Maybe it’s called a tortoise because it’s a member of the Testudinidae family – the land dwelling turtles.

    If you’re going to call it a turtle we might as well call all the felids mentioned today as ‘cats’ rather than lynx or leopards.

    1. When I was much younger I learned that a tortoise was a land dwelling turtle, a terrapin lived on land and in the water, and a turtle proper lived in water exclusively. Well, pretty much exclusively. So an eastern box turtle was properly speaking a tortoise.

      1. A terrapin is I believe a particular species of amphibious turtle.

        Turtles, tortoises and the terrapin are all turtles. Just as cats, lynx and leopards are all cats

    2. The oED Online defines the tortoise thus –
      A four-footed reptile of the order Chelonia, in which the trunk is enclosed between a carapace and plastron, formed by the dorsal vertebræ, ribs, and sternum; the skin being covered with large horny plates, commonly called the shell.
      The Chelonia are usually divided into Land-tortoises (Testudinidæ), Marsh-tortoises (Emydæ), River-tortoises (Trionycidæ), and Marine tortoises (Chelonidæ), in which the feet are compressed into flippers or paddles. The last are now commonly distinguished as turtles; but this name is sometimes extended to species of the Emydæ and Trionycidæ. By some zoologists the name ‘tortoise’ is confined to the terrestrial genus Testudo and its immediate congeners; see also TERRAPIN.

      1. Oh dear. All I meant was that most Americans call all these things “turtles”: we hardly ever use the word tortoise. Whereas Brits use tortoise far more often.

        1. But that’s simply incorrect, as are many of these other attempts to disambiguate. The ‘problem’ is the old separated by a common language thing.

          HERE IS THE RUNDOWN (as I understand it):
          USA: “turtle” covers all chelonians. “tortoise’ is a terrestrial testudinid (this is not uncommon usage at all, contra Coyne). “terrapin” on the East Coast means Malaclemys terrapin, the diamndback. In parts of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas, box turtles are called “terrapins”. Nobody calls a box turtle a “tortoise”.

          UK: “turtle” generally means cheloniid and dermochelyid sea turtles (the only chelonians native to the British isles, btw); “tortoise” means testudinid (and perhaps box turtles? not sure); “terrapin” often means any semiaquatic freshwater chelonian.

          Oz: “tortoise” means freshwater chelonian (there are no native testudinids); “turtle” probably means “sea turtle”, and “terrapin” is a Grateful Dead song.


          1. hmm, Dominic’s OED reference above suggests British usage is traditionally for “tortoise” to mean all chelonians.

            On the other hand, this:

            By some zoologists the name ‘tortoise’ is confined to the terrestrial genus Testudo and its immediate congeners

            makes no sense whatsoever, since “immediate congener” means “member of the same genus.”

            No zoologist restricts “tortoise” to the genus Testudo (to the exclusion of other testudinids), though; at least not since Testudo started getting split up in the late 19th Century!

        2. All I meant was that most Americans call all these things “turtles”: we hardly ever use the word tortoise.

          Huh? We must know different Americans…:D

          (I’m in total agreement with Sven.)

      2. OED also says that turtle is apparently “a corruption by English sailors, of the earlier tortue, or the French original of this (see TORTOISE), assimilated to the known word TURTLE” (the dove).
        So by these definitions turtles are a suset of tortoises. Clearly American usage is different.
        I am supressing an urge to an Ogden Nash reference!

        1. Oh let it out:

          Come, crown my brow with leaves of myrtle!
          I know the tortoise is a turtle.
          Come, carve my name in stone immortal!
          I know the turtoise is a tortle.
          I know to my profound despair –
          I bet on one to beat a hare.
          I also know I’m now a pauper
          Because of its tortly, turtly, torpor.

          And it must be delivered impeccably by Noël Coward, with Saint Saëns’ music undernearth (which is in turn slowed-down Offenbach).

  4. My favorite part is the leopard cub “hiding” behind the pole and launching a surprise attack on mum (2:45).

  5. Awww.

    The tortoise reminds me of Kakashi doing pushups with his students on his back in one of the early volumes of Naruto.

    It’s a bodybuilding tort’.

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