Weird Wildlife Wednesday: This is Not a Kitty
Nope, not a kitty. Meet the fossa, and it is actually a type of mongoose.
Species: C. ferox
This is the largest carnivore native to Madagascar, averaging between 70 and 80cm in length. It is also the top predator, known to eat animals from mice to lemurs and even wild pigs.
“But it looks like a kitty.” I know, and scientists thought so too for a while there until 1993 when a DNA hybridization study suggested that the fossa belonged in the mongoose family Herpestidae. In 1995 however, a morphological study grouped it back again with the cat family Felidae. In 2003 a molecular phylogenetic study demonstrated that Malagasy carnivorans had common ancestry that excluded other carnivores (including kitties) and were also most closely related to Asian and African Herpestidae. All Malgasy carnivorians were subsequently grouped in the family Eupleridae.
The fossa admittedly has some feline features including the shape of its head, the curved, retractable claws, and slightly webbed feet. A long tail helps it balance as it climbs through the trees and it is primarily active at night.
Due to habitat loss the fossa is considered endangered as less than ten percent of original Madagascar’s forest cover- the fossa’s only habitat- remains.
Other source: National Geographic