IT'S BLACK !
This particular Panther Crossing
is an interesting case and has been the cause of some confusion.
The "Florida panther" is not a "Black Panther", the Florida panther is a sub species
of the cougar. The Florida panther does have some physical distinctions, having adapted to life in Floridas woodlands
and swamps, but overall it is similar in form & color to its North American cousin the cougar.
There have been reports of melanistic cougars, and cougars do have black hairs
and dark fur on parts of their bodies, but I have never seen any hard evidence of a black one.
Folks have brought up the fact that they
have seen signs in Florida which show a "black" panther crossing the road. The sign that they are referring to is the one shown above.
Just for the record this sign is a "silhouette",
and is not intending to represent the Florida panther as being black. The coat of a Florida Panther
is a tawny color.
I have also been asked "then
why did the sign show it was black and not tawny?"
I suspect that the reason
is the black figure has more contrast on the yellow background, and therefore would be more visible especially at night. If
the sign showed a tawny colored cat it would be more difficult to see and would not stand out against the yellow.
Here is a souvenir sign that I collected which shows the truer color. If this sign were
posted on the roads, I dont think it would be as effective, it's not as obvious from a distance and would likely be a lot
more expensive to produce. There are many other wildlife road signs that appear in silhouette: bear, deer, raccoon, gator,
turtle, even moose.