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We wanted to know where Madagascar’s mysterious ‘forest’ cats came from. What we found


Being separated from all other land masses since the late Cretaceous, when dinosaurs still dominated many parts of the Earth, Madagascar has long been referred to as a “natural laboratory of evolution”. Its long isolation resulted in unique fauna and flora, most of which have evolved in place.

Madagascar only has four groups of endemic land mammals: primates (lemurs), rodents, Afrotheres (formerly insectivores such as tenrecs), and carnivores. Yet there’s huge diversity within these four groups.

When it comes to endemic terrestrial carnivores, there’s only one group that is recognised: the Eupleridae. Of these, the largest is the fosa. This is neither a felid (cat family) nor a canid (dog family). It is closely related to the mongoose and weighs between 5 and 10 kg. It has long been the primary mammalian predator of lemurs and other Malagasy mammals. MORE

Header image: provided by the Authors.

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