Dec 24 2013

 

 

 

Fosas1_Copy

Africa Geographic has a story on the Fosa. What in the hell is a Fosa? Well, it is little known creature that exists in Madagascar that for years was thought to be a member of the 'cat family'. In reality it is a species all of its own and is often known in scientific circles as 'that false feline'

The site gives us five facts about the very endangered Madagascar Fosa.

Fact 1

It has taken scientists years to make up their minds about these intriguing creatures. The fosa was first described in 1833 when it was thought to be a cat. Current genetic analysis, however, has revealed distant shared connections with the African mongoose.

Fact 2

Curious and voracious, fosas have been known to ransack unoccupied tents and eat bars of soap, malaria pills and even leather boots. But their diet consists mainly of lemurs, rodents and other vertebrates.

Fact 3

The fosa is Madagascar’s largest carnivore and an excellent arboreal hunter. It is an agile climber with powerful forelimbs, paws with retractable claws and ‘reversible’ ankles. The latter enable it to grasp both sides of a tree trunk when ascending or descending headfirst.

Fact 4

The fosa and the other seven endemic carnivores of Madagascar have evolved from a common ancestor that arrived on the island by rafting some 20 – 25 million years ago. They have been placed in their own family, Eupleridea.

Fact 5

The naturally low population densities combined with the loss and fragmentation of habitat make the species incredibly vulnerable. The latest Global Mammal Assessment estimates a total population of fewer than 2 500 fosas on Madagascar.