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Arizona Docent

Port Lympne, Oct 28, 2009

indian wildcat - Felis silvestris ornata (incorrectly labelled on park sign as Felis lybica ornata)

Port Lympne, Oct 28, 2009
Arizona Docent, 11 Nov 2009
    • Arizona Docent
      indian wildcat - Felis silvestris ornata (incorrectly labelled on park sign as Felis lybica ornata)
    • Blackduiker

      Great shot!
    • Rating:
      This isn't a labelling mistake. When the European and Afro-Asian Wildcats are considered to be two species, as is usually done now, the Indian Wildcat is included in Felis lybica.
    • Brum
      @Hallstromite that may be the case now but it certainly wasn't 10 years ago, which was when this photo was taken... ;)
    • Chlidonias
      @Brum what do you mean by "certainly wasn't 10 years ago"? The taxonomy of the wildcats has been all over the place. In 2009 (and even today) it was quite easy to find different sources listing lumped silvestris and split silvestris and lybica. The best you could genuinely say about the caption on this photo is that "Arizona Docent was obviously following a lumped taxonomy for wildcats". The signage wasn't incorrect, it just wasn't what Arizona Docent wanted to follow.

      In fact, looking at the IUCN page (which lumps all wildcats), it has references from 2007 and 2010 for a lumped silvestris, and also a 2009 reference with the alternative splitting of that species.
    • Brum
      @Chlidonias my mistake, I always thought that (old) wild cat taxonomy recognised lybica as a subspecies until recently. I didn't realise that, even back then, that some authorities were splitting it at species level, so I stand corrected.
    • Arizona Docent
      Here is my understanding of the situation, which is accurate to the best of my knowledge but of course I am not a scientist and my knowledge is limited. Take it with a grain of salt.

      The source that I consider to be the most "official" listing of cat species is the one produced by IUCN Cat Specialist Group. For many years (1970's and 80's and maybe earlier) the wildcat was listed as two distinct species: Felis silvestris for Europe and Britain and Felis lybica for Africa and MIddle East and India. So I am sure when this exhibit was created the sign was correct for that time.

      Then there was a major revision of cat taxonomy, which IUCN Cat Group adopted, that lumped the two into a single species: Felis silvestris. At the time I took this photo in 2009 that was the case, the trinomial had been changed from Felis lybica ornata to Felis silvestris ornata. However the signage at Port Lympne was not changed and they kept the old name.

      In the last couple years however, there was yet another major revision of cat taxonomy and they have gone back to the original designation of two species. So as of today my comment on this photo is outdated and it turns out Port Lympne was right all along (even though they would not have been considered accurate at the time). Unfortunately the cats have now died out and there is no place in Europe or North America where you can see this beautiful subspecies, no matter what you call it.
    • Chlidonias
      The very fact that wildcat taxonomy is so variable shows that there is no "right" or "wrong" with the signage. It wasn't / isn't "inaccurate" or "outdated", it is just one opinion over the other, both of which could be supported by scientific evidence.
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    Port Lympne Wild Animal Park
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    Arizona Docent
    11 Nov 2009
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