African cats, cats, cats! Which ones can roar?
The term big cats, is used informally to distinguish the larger felid species from smaller ones.
There are only 4 large cats that can roar
One definition of “big cats” includes the four members of the genus Panthera: the tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard.
Members of this genus are the only cats able to roar. A more expansive definition of ”big cat” also includes the cougar, cheetah, snow leopard, and clouded leopard.
Despite enormous differences in size, the various species of cat are quite similar in both structure and behavior, with the exception of the cheetah, which is significantly different from any of the big or small cats. All cats are carnivores and efficient apex predators. Their range includes the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
The ability to roar comes from an elongated and specially adapted larynx and hyoid apparatus. (However, neither the snow leopard nor the cheetah can roar, despite having hyoid morphology similar to roaring cats.) When air passes through the larynx on the way from the lungs, the cartilage walls of the larynx vibrate, producing sound. The lion’s larynx is longest, giving it the most robust roar.
Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania is famous for the prides of lions within its borders that have taken to spending much of their time up trees – the “tree-climbing lions of Manyara”! These guys are are a good one for your bucket list!
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