Sunday, November 30, 2008

Species featured in Documentary

The Roddy and Clark Expedition featured Species List

Bird Species:
Baltimore oriole (
Icterus galbula)
Bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus)
Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)
Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
Cougar / Mountain Lion (captive breed) (Puma concolor couguar)
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
White tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Crayfish Cambarus (Hiaticambarus) longulus
Garden spider (Argiope aurantia)
Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria cybele)
Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis)
Six-spotted Tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
Hayscented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)
Large Round Leaf Orchid (Platanthera orbiculata)
Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium acaule)
Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum, Rhododendron catawbiense)

Salamander (Species Unclear)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Melanistic Cougars

Black Leopard Photo from wikipedia creative commons

I thought it was important to touch on the subject of black cougar sightings. It seems that one in three cougar sightings in the east have been about a large, black cat. Just as confusing as the controversial issue of existence of eastern cougars, we now throw black cougars into the mix. Is there such a thing as a black cougar? Truly, I'm not sure. With so many sightings of black cougars, it is difficult not to wonder of their existence. But what makes a cougar black, and why don't we see them everywhere?
First, realize that black animals have a higher amount of a pigment called melanin. If an animal is darker in relation to one of the same species, the darker animal has more melanin. In most cases the animal has a mutated gene making the creature, all black. The only possible account of a black cougar was from Panama, of a cougar which was a much darker shade of black red. Although this cougar could be considered black, the underside was white as all cougar's bellies are. So, this cougar was not a true melanistic animal. Black cougar sightings have been classified as house cat sightings. I will diverge into the black cougar aspect later.
One important point I have witnessed today is the further away an animal can be, the more difficult the relative size is to determine. I saw a black cat as I drove down the road. It was making its way through the grasses of a field, more than 200 feet away. In the brief time I saw the animal, I had to assess the size and decide what it was. It was a black house cat. Now I can see where it become so hard for someone to determine the species of an animal in fleeting glimpses. I am not discarding the possibility of Black cougars, but I think there must be some explanation.