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     How Panthers Use their Nose 

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A feature that panthers & Romans have in common.


The Nose is formed of cartilage bone and skin, covered with fur and lined on the inside with mucus. It is a prominent feature on a panthers face used to take in air and odors.


At the tip, is the nose pad, which is dry to the touch not wet like the nose of a dog. Dogs & other animals better known for their sense of smell generally have longer snouts, and a larger area of the brain dedicated to olfactory determination. However, a panther’s ability to detect and identify scent is still a powerful aid in its daily life and far surpasses our own.    


Being able to recognize a particular odor is important, as it can alert the panther to other animals in its vicinity, such as predators, or allow it to sniff out potential prey. A scent can communicate the presence and physical state of another panther; it can express the gender, age, health, and reproductive condition of another cat.


Enlarged nasal openings & the wider bone structure of the nose allows for rapid inhalation, and a greater volume of air to be taken in through the nose to the lungs, this is not only important while running but essential after a chase, when one has exerted a huge amount of energy, stops, and is left gasping for air, the body is trying to express carbon dioxide & re-oxygenate the organs. We humans call this being “puffed”.


A distinctive adaptation of the Florida panther is known as “the Roman nose”. What does that mean? The panther’s skull shape is slightly different from its cougar cousins; it has a higher or steeper rise of the nasal arch. This peculiar shape of the arch can be measured and seen when comparing the skulls of these cats.


Panthers not only take in scent through their nostrils, but also through their mouth, this act is called Flehmen. It looks like the cat is making a “stinky” face, it opens its mouth pulls back its lips to expose its teeth, screws up its nose and breaths in. You may see this Flehmen response after they have sniffed an area when they lift up their head. Flehmen possibly helps draw in more of the odor allowing the molecules to be absorbed by the Jacobson’s organ, seated in the roof of the mouth, sensors then take the information to the brain to decipher the smell.



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