| Prionailurus vulgaris|
|Future of The World|
|This is a part of Future of The World: a collaborative project about our planet's future|
The swamp lion (Prionailurus vulgaris) is a mountain lion-like felid from Southeast Asia. It descended from the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).
The swamp lion resembles the mountain lion in build, hence its name, though it is not descended from any member of the genus Panthera. They are colored similar to current fishing cats, though their spots are more randomly placed and they have no stripes.
The webbing on the feet is far more prominent in swamp lions than in fishing cats (it should be noted that the webbing in fishing cats, contrary to popular perception, is no more developed than in bobcats). In swamp lions, the feet have become splayed, with strong webbing stretched between them, to increase the surface area (making it easier to avoid sinking in the mud) and to make it easier to swim. Swamp lions can dive to hunt large aquatic prey, and the coat is even more water-resistant than the fishing cat's.
In the past, fishing cats had hook-like claws that were used to snare fish. This remains true for the front feet, but the back feet have developed serrated edges to increase the damage done to prey by making wounds deeper.
Behavior and DietEdit
The species is solitary, like its ancestor. While they are not particularly aggressive, they will seek to avoid one another if at all possible. Two swamp lions encountering each other will simply turn around and proceed in the opposite direction. The only exception is during the breeding season and mothers with cubs--during the breeding season, males will gather at a location in the range of a female and fight each other for the right to mate. Each female territory encompasses several smaller male territories.
Swamp lions feed on mid-sized mammals, as well as fish. It should be noted that, like their ancestors, swamp lions are creatures of water, and spend a great deal of time in it. Most of their mammalian prey is aquatic or amphibious. The forest bristle booms and the mud stilt boars are staple prey items, they though sometimes eat other larger animals such as bearded river sliders.
The swamp lion evolved from the fishing cat. As the ocean levels receded, Southeast Asia and much of Oceania became connected, allowing the fishing cat to expand its range greatly. Over time, the fishing cat became less specialized, due to the increased continuous area allowing for larger animals (all the members of the Panthera have been driven extinct during the Age of Man), and increased in size, the result of increased food supply.
However, the fishing cat's habitat remained, for the most part, swampy. Swampy with tall trees, similar to a mangrove forest in many ways, but swampy. Therefore, the fishing cat continued to evolve to live in its swampy, wet habitat, leading to adaptations like increased foot size and webbing.
The Sunda puma (Prionailurus vulgaris maximus) is adapted to live in a drier environnment, as areas that were inhabited by swamp lions dried out over millions of years due to climate change. As a result, the subspecies is larger, since their body isn't limited by having to deal with underbrush.