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Jaguars in the Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve on the Mexican Pacific coast weighed just about 50 kg (110 lb), about the size of a female cougar.While the jaguar closely resembles the leopard, it is generally sturdier and heavier, and the two animals can be distinguished by their rosettes: the rosettes on a jaguar's coat are larger, fewer in number, usually darker, and have thicker lines and small spots in the middle that the leopard lacks.Pocock did not have access to sufficient zoological specimens to critically evaluate their subspecific status, but expressed doubt about the status of several. The spots and their shapes vary between individual jaguars: rosettes may include one or several dots.Later consideration of his work suggested only three subspecies should be recognized. The spots on the head and neck are generally solid, as are those on the tail, where they may merge to form a band.While international trade in jaguars or their body parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including those of the Maya and Aztec.In Mexican Spanish, its nickname is el tigre: 16th century Spaniards had no native word in their language for the jaguar, which is smaller than a lion, but bigger than a leopard, nor had ever encountered it in the Old World, and so named it after the tiger, since its ferocity would have been known to them through Roman writings and popular literature during the Renaissance.

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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.

The jaguar has been an American cat since crossing the Bering Land Bridge during the Pleistocene epoch; the immediate ancestor of modern animals is Panthera onca augusta, which was larger than the contemporary cat.

Xingu National Park in Brazil, and numerous other reserves throughout its range.

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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