Black panthers

Dear Editor,
It is important to clarify public perception about rare black panthers which is often not scientifically correct. A black panther is technically a melanistic mutant variation of some (~3.5%) cat (feline) species; in addition to some leopard sub species across Asia and Africa and jaguars in Central and South America. It is also noted in some rodents and special variety known as Silkie chicken. Research indicates that the expression of melanism (black coat color due to dark coloring pigment melanin accumulation) is regulated by recessive allele in jaguars and dominant alleles in leopards. Often the melanistic expression is not too distinct and one can see the faint impressions of characteristic leopard or jaguar coat pattern on the black background if watched carefully and close enough. Often this could be due to pseudo or false melanism. This genetic condition is known to have provided adaptive advantages in hiding in the neotropical forests with very little sunlight hitting the soil floor; and also to predate and forage more successfully than their normal counterparts with distinct coat coloration.
Saikat Kumar Basu