Dating 49735

The countries included in this range are Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica (particularly on the Osa Peninsula), Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, the United States and Venezuela.

It is now locally extinct in El Salvador and Uruguay.

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The jaguar is thought to have diverged from a common ancestor of the Panthera species at least 1.5 million years ago and to have entered the American continent in the Early Pleistocene via Beringia, the land bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait.

Results of jaguar mitochondrial DNA analysis indicates that the species' lineage evolved between 280,000 and 510,000 years ago.

Jaguars also have rounder heads and shorter, stockier limbs compared to leopards.

The black form may be an example of heterozygote advantage; breeding in captivity is not yet conclusive on this.

The jaguar enjoys swimming and is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain.

As a keystone species it plays an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating prey populations.

The position of the remaining species varies between studies and is effectively unresolved.

Based on morphological evidence, British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock concluded the jaguar is most closely related to the leopard. The fur is covered with rosettes for camouflage in the dappled light of its forest habitat.

Though there are single cats now living within the western United States, the species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century.

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