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Asian spotted cats (Prionailurus)

Prionailurus is a genus of four species of small, spotted wild cats found in Asia. The Russian explorer and naturalist Nikolai Severtzov proposed the generic name for the leopard cat in 1858, when many naturalists placed cat species under the genus Felis. In 1939, the British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock described the recognized the genus Prionailurus based on skins and skulls and compared these to body parts of Felis. Species in Prionailurus are marked with spots, which are often lanceolate, but may be rosette-like or run into longitudinal chains; the spots never fuse to form vertical stripes. Prionailurus skulls are lower and less vaulted than in Felis, the facial portion is shorter than the cranial, the floor of the orbit is longer, the nasal bones are not everted above the anterior nares and the outer chamber of the bulla is much smaller than the inner. Pocock classified leopard cat, rusty-spotted cat and fishing cat as belonging to the genus Prionailurus.[1]

The cats usually live in forests. Most can swim well and some are semi-aquatic and feed mainly on fish and other aquatic animals.

Pocock's classification of Prionailurus is widely accepted as comprising [1] the leopard cat (P. bengalensis), rusty-spotted cat (P. rubiginosus), fishing cat (P. viverrinus) and flat-headed cat (P. planiceps). Molecular analysis of leopard cat populations indicates a clear distinction between northern and southern populations, so P. b. euptilurus may be a valid species.[3] The Iriomote cat (P. bengalensis iriomotensis) was been proposed as a distinct species (P. iriomotensis) based on morphology, but is considered a subspecies of P. bengalensis based on genetic analysis.[2]

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