Long time ago I saw a jaguar (I believe it was one). The strange thing was, that it was extremely dark. I wouldn't refer to it as "black" but actually pretty dark.

What does such a color signal? Was it sick, young or just an optical illusion?

  • Where was the sighting, may help with identifying.
    – AM_Hawk
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 15:19
  • @AM_Hawk That was in Mexico I believe. Definitely Central America at least :)
    – OddDeer
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 15:24
  • I don't know what the color signifies, but there's a name for it: "Melanism" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanism Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 17:52
  • 1
    Many big cats have colour variants caused by pigmentation. I can think of at least three; King Cheetah's (bit.ly/1NoIOyi), White Lions (bit.ly/1QGrZRb) and Black Tigers (bit.ly/1SieTXV). Perhaps you saw a "pigmented" Jaguar, or a Black Panther (bit.ly/1LQNXKK)?
    – Jongosi
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


It's possible that what you saw was normal for a jaguar. The Panthera species (leopards [Panthera pardus] in Asia and Africa, and jaguars [Panthera onca] in the Americas) can have melanistic colours like many species. They're commonly known as Black Panthers.

Sometimes you can still see a leopard / jaguars spots through the black fur, but it's still melanistic as it's had a development of the coloured pigment melanin, other times it's a complete covering.

  • Wow, I've never heard of that before. However, you are completely right. A quick google search confirmed your assumption.
    – OddDeer
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 15:26
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    @OddDeer It's not as commonly thought of as Albinism, but it's essentially the opposite.
    – Aravona
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 15:28

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