The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Raccoon
Story Of The Cobego
Story Of The Gazelle
Story Of The Chameleon
Story Of The Fossa
Story Of The Walrus
Story Of The Mole
Story Of The Pangolin
Story Of The Opossum
Story Of The Caffre Cat
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Story Of The Fossa
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The fossa of Madagascar, which is the largest flesh-eating animal found in that island, is the species connecting the more typical members of the cat family. This peculiar animal differs, indeed, so remarkably from all the other representatives of the tribe, that it has been considered by some that it ought to be referred to a separate family.
The fossa is a nearly uniformly-colored animal, with short and thick pale brown fur; and it attains a total length of about five feet from the snout to the tip of the tail, the length of the tail being more than three-quarters that of the head and body. The curved claws are sharp, and retractile; and the feet, each of which is furnished with five claws, are very similar to those of a cat, except that the whole sole of the hind pair is naked, and applied to the ground in walking.
It is a purely nocturnal creature, of a fierce disposition, but scarcely any-thing is yet known of its habits.
The fossa is undoubtedly one of the most interesting beasts of prey, if not one of the most interesting of animal creatures in. general. Any scientist who disputes the fact that intermediate forms, which play such an important part in natural history in its newest aspect, really exist, must keep silence when he beholds this animal. The fossa cannot be determined nor comprehended in any other way but as an intermediate or transitional form as a link connecting the real cats with kindred animals. These animals existed in a less perfect state at an earlier period of the earth's development, and are called stealthy cats, including the palm-civets, civets, genets and mungooses. Should the body of a large, reddish-brown palm-civet be imbued with the lively, sportive nature, the intense elasticity and supple mobility of a true cat, this unique animal would 'present in itself the combination of these contradictory features. The feet, which are furnished with curved, sharp, and, somewhat retractable claws, are very similar to those of a, cat, except that the whole sole of the hind pair is knotted, and applied to the ground in walking. The picture, unfortunately, does not convey a correct idea of the disposition of the animal, the splendid, serpent-like, wavy motions of its body, which is of a light brown color tinged with red and gray. The muscular structure, however, shows a powerful, compact build. The limbs, though small, are well knit. The ears are large and rounded, while the tail measures more than three-fourths of the length of the head and body. The fossa has a total of thirty-six teeth, of which the hinder ones, both in form and number, closely resemble those of the cat.
It is because the fossa is the largest of the flesh-eating animals of Madagascar that the lemurs flourish in that island. The fossa undoubtedly kills many of the smaller lemurs, but owing to the agility of those monkey-like little animals, it is difficult for even such an active, agile animal as the fossa to catch them hence many escape because the fossa turns its attention to the pursuit of still smaller and easier prey.