Food Science Zone
Asked by cewis to Enda, Jean, Kate, Kev, Tim on 16 Nov 2012.
Like a lot of animals with markings, Cheetahs have spots to provide some camouflage. In their case it is while hunting their prey (gazelles, young wildebeest or zebras) while other animal camouflage is to hide them from predators like cheetahs (e.g. the zebra stripes make it difficult to pick out one from a herd making hunting more difficult). Along with the speed of the animals increasing over time, camouflage is a type of “arms race” between the hunter and the hunted, each getting better, and therefore staying the same overall!
Interestingly, a cheetah’s spots are solid, while leopards and jaguars are open with a light patch of fur in the middle. Also, unlike other big cats, cheetahs are born with their spots, while others develop them as they mature. Some cheetahs have larger, joined up spots, and are called “king cheetahs” but it’s very rare in the wild. There have even been reports of white or cream cheetahs with red or even grey-blue spots.
One interesting of cheetah’s spots is their evolutionary origins. The spotted patterns in cheetahs are controlled in the same way a domestic cat’s coat patterns. So this means that coat-patterns in cats are very ancient, and apply to all cats, including lions, tigers and our pets. These are unique to cats and mammals including us in general. Most lizards and fish just add stripes to their scales when they grow, but cheetahs, cats and other animals make their spots or patterns bigger.
What’s fascinating about this is how groups with very different hair/fur patterns like humans and cats all have very similar genes that decide what pattern and colour to use. The same genes keep get re-used in completely different organisms. We see this is how mice and chickens all have the same set of fur or feather colours: white, biege, red and black, and everything in between.
To look good 🙂
i love cheetas
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i love fota! i love the girraffes especially.
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