How Did the Puma Get Its Name?


Quick Answer

Several sources indicate that puma is the Peruvian Incan name for a species of cat indigenous to the Americas, also called cougar, mountain lion, catamount and panther. The actual species name is Puma concolor, and it applies to the largest of the small cat species.

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How Did the Puma Get Its Name?
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Full Answer

An alternate or associated etymology suggests that the Puma concolor was referred to as the "cuougar" by the French explorer and naturalist Count Georges-Louis Leclerc Buffon. His usage reportedly derived from the Brazilian Portuguese world "cuguacuarana," which itself evolved from the Tupi Indian word "susuarana," meaning "false deer." The word concolor translates as "of one color" and pertains to the puma's uniformly brown fur.

A member of the family Felidae, the Puma concolor has the widest distribution of any mammal in the New World. Puma can be found as far north as southeastern Alaska and as far south as the southern part of Argentina and Chile.

Puma thrive in a variety of habitats, including desert scrub, chaparral, swamps and forests, but they avoid agricultural areas, flatlands and other habitats lacking cover. As a species, this cat is known by many names in many languages. However, it is still most commonly referred to as the puma by those in the scientific community.

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