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ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS, How the World's First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species
By Laurel A. Neme, PhD
|Amazonian Indians tell of jaguars emerging from the forest to play with village children.|
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Jaguars are the biggest feline in the Americas, and the third largest in the world, after tigers and lions. Their common name comes from the Indian word, yaguar, which means “he who kills with one leap,” a reflection of their killing style, while their scientific name, Panthera onca, means "hunter," "hook" or "barb" and refers to their stealth and formidable claws. They look similar to leopards, except that jaguars are stockier, with shorter muscular limbs and smaller tails, and have spots inside their rosettes. Their camouflage spots (which are unique to each individual), specially padded paws (that mask noise when stalking), agile tree climbing abilities, strong jaws and powerful killing bite combine to make them stealthy and formidable hunters.