Rare film of Pallas’s cat hunting

Via The Rainforest Site we get some rare footage of my absolute favorite wild cat, the Pallas’s cat, or “manul” (Otocolobus manul) hunting in nature. It’s a denizen of the Asian steppes, and, with its luxuriant fur and small ears, well adapted to deal with cold. The cubs appear 20 seconds into the video.

The skinny:

On August 31, the Pallas cat International Conservation Alliance announced that they had captured footage of the elusive animal in Mongolia’s Zoolon Mountains. Using remote sensor research cameras, the footage shows a full-grown Pallas cat hunting in the daylight. The cameras also recorded cubs exploring the strange cameras during the night.

Well that wasn’t long enough to satisfy our desire to see this wonderful beast, so have a two-minute video from PBS. Look at that fur!

And note the eyestripes, something present in Felis silvestris, and ancestor of the house cat. I’m sure there’s ample speculation about possible adaptive functions of this pattern, but I don’t know what it is. Any guesses?

Felis silvestris, the European wildcat

Domestic tabby (Hili)

h/t: Moto


  1. Redlivingblue
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the eye stripes function as an anti-glare mechanism, like the eye black worn by athletes.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    My wild guess would be that it makes them look formidable or scary.

  3. Posted September 22, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    My theory is that it makes the eye less conspicuous so helps camouflage the animal.

    • eric
      Posted September 22, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Yeah that would be mine too. Solid colors aren’t as good camouflage as broken up shapes. The stripes break up the outline of the cat’s head, making it seem like lots of little shapes instead of one big cat-head-shaped one.

  4. pck
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Probably patterns formed by unrelated developmental processes with no adaptive function.

    • Posted September 22, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      I agree. The stripes of color are formed during development by streams of neural crest cells that later produce pigment. The stripesare an effective camoflague, but I think particular stripe patterns are probably more about migratory patterns of nc cells.

  5. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Spot the pattern [my stars]:

    “*Although long-studied, the underlying basis of mammalian coat patterns remains unclear.* By studying a large number of cat species and varieties, Kaelin et al. (p. 1536) identified two genes, Taqpep and Edn3, as critical factors in the development of feline pigment patterns. Mutations in Taqpep are responsible for the blotched tabby pattern in domestic cats and the unusual coat of wild king cheetahs. Gene expression patterns in cat and cheetah skin suggest that Edn3 is a likely regulator of felid hair color. The findings support a common model for coat and pigment pattern formation in domestic and wild cats.”

    [ http://science.sciencemag.org/content/337/6101/1536 ]

  6. Jacques Hausser
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    What I found strikingly “uncatlike” is these small round pupils. I remember a discussion (on this site ?) about the observation that many small diurnal/nocturnal predators like wild cats or foxes have slitted pupils, which maximize the difference of aperture between day and night. Is ther Pallas’ cat mostly diurnal ?

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 23, 2017 at 12:35 am | Permalink

      Thanks for pointing that out.

      Lion eyes are the same, IIRC.

  7. eric
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Love the kittens mugging for the camera in the first video.

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