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The jaguar is the cat Panthera onça of South and Central America. The background of the coat is usually an orange-yellow in colour, with numerous rings or rosettes on the flanks and spots on the head and neck. It is possible to distinguish this cat from the related leopard by the presence of spots inside its rosettes. A condition known as melanism[?] can create jaguars that appear entirely black (although the spots are still visible if one looks closely). These are known as black panthers, but do not form a separate species.

The jaguar is the largest cat native to the Americas, weighing up to 140 kg, and has the strongest jaw structure compared to any related feline species. In one native South American language yaguara means "a beast that kills its prey with one bound"; the English word jaguar is derived from this term. Their habitat ranges from the rain forests of South and Central America to more open country, but they are rarely seen in mountainous areas. Known for their strong swimming and climbing abilities, they often prefer to live by rivers and in wet regions.

Two Jaguars mating. Note the melanistic female. Image courtesy of David B. Jack, http://www.muratasystem.or.jp/~dbjack/main_page_english.htm

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