Panthera atrox in the West

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 29th, 2006

This is the introduction and the “western segment” of “APPENDIX I” from Mysterious America:

The American Lion (Panthera atrox):
Cryptid Black Panthers, Maned Cats,
and Striped Felines Selected Sightings

The first edition of Mysterious America (1983) detailed decades of large mystery felid sightings. This edition updates that work, gathering old records, as well as new ones. This revised volume also adds, for the first
time, this appendix to support the added details in Chapters 12 and 13.

In 1994, Mark A. Hall published a list of seventy specific cases to illustrate the black panther and maned cat data in his article, “The American Lion (Panthera atrox),” Wonders 3(1): 3-20, in conjunction
with his theory that Panthera atrox may be a Pleistocene survivor. The following list of more than 140 events doubles Hall’s original, which is reprinted here with permission, and expanded with other material from
my files; any mistakes are mine and not his. While there are literally hundreds of cases, the following chart contains a selection to demonstrate the diversity and chronological nature of the reports, as well as specific hints of geographic distribution.

Please note, several sightings may be grouped under one entry, as mystery cat reports often occur in a concentrated series. Some effort has been made to highlight incidents involving more than one feline, demonstrating the social nature of these cats, but several melanistic records may include multiple sightings not referenced as such.

Eastern Reports of Black Panthers, Maned Cats, and Striped Felines
[116 cases not shown…to be found in Mysterious America]

Western Reports of Black Panthers, Maned Cats, and Striped Felines
1. 1519 / Montezuma’s Menagerie, Tenochtitlan, Mexico / R. Marshall, Onza,
1961: 82-88 / one of “two kinds of lions”
2. 1750s / lower California / R. Marshall, Onza, 1961: 92-95 / other kind of “lion”
3. 1868 / Lake Co. CA / See Chapter 13 / maned with stripes
4. 1940 / w. Mexico / See Chapter 13 / maned with stripes
5. 1951 / Waterloo NE / New York Times 29 Nov 1951 / maned
6. 1954 / Surprise, Rising City NE / Omaha World Herald 2 Aug 1954 / maned +
mate = 2
7. 1959 / Lorain OH / See Chapter 13 / maned
8. 1960 / Fort Worth TX / interview with Sallie Ann Clarke, April 1970 / black
9. 1961 / Craig and Roger Cos. OK / Newsweek 27 Mar 1961: 31-34 / maned,
10. 1964 / Marin Co. CA / San Rafael Independent-Journal 14 Sep 1964 / black
11. 1964 / Ventura Co. CA / See Chapter 12 / black + black = 2
12. 1967 / Ventura Co. CA / Ventura Star-Free Press 13 Dec 1967 / black
13. 1968 / Thousand Oaks CA / Ventura Star-Free Press 9 Jan 1968 / black
14. 1972 / Contra Costa Co. CA / See Chapter 12 / black + tawny = 2
15. 1973 / Concord to Danville CA / Vallejo Times-Herald 5 Mar 1973 / black
16. 1973 / Alum Rock (east of San Jose) CA / AP, 16 Dec 1973 / black
17. 1975 / Nobility TX / Sherman Democrat 22 May 1975 / black
18. pre-1976 / Big Thicket TX / Corpus Christi Caller 8 Feb 1976 / black
19. 1976 / Tucson AZ / Tucson Citizen 17 Sep-27 Oct 1976 / black
20. 1976 / Tacoma WA / See Chapter 13 / maned
21. 1977 / Talihina OK / Talihina American 20 Jan 1977 / black
22. 1977 / Oklahoma City OK / Oklahoma Times 25-26 Oct 1977 / Oklahoman 26-
27 Oct 1977 / black
23. 1977 / Dierks, Dover AR / See Chapter 13 / black + maned = 2
24. 1977 / Muscatine IA / Res Bureaux Bulletin, 1977, 27: 6 / “lion” cub found
25. 1979 / Fremont CA / Fremont Argus 11-17 Nov 1979, San Francisco Chronicle
13 Nov 1979 / maned, roaring
26. 1983 / El Toro CA / UPI 9 Oct 1983 / maned
27. 1984 / San Dimas CA / San Gabriel Valley Tribune 21 May 1984 / black
28. 1985 / Fort Worth TX / F. W. Star Telegram 21-22 Feb 1985, UPI 21-22
Feb 1985 / maned, roaring
29. 1988 / Fairfield CA / UPI 10 Apr 1988 / black
30. 1999 / Port Angeles CA / See Chapter 13 / “African lioness” + roaring = 2

Are you aware of any new reports, since the year 2000, of black or maned Mystery Cats from the West?

Mysterious America contains details on the western sightings, as noted in this sampler, which celebrates the book’s forthcoming departure from print. The examination of Mystery Felids (Panthera atrox) is one of the most enhanced parts of the book, which changed from 1983 to the recent 2001/2004 editions.

The paperbound version will not be available at this price again online as a Paraview Press edition after Friday. It goes out-of-print too. But, yes, a few hardcovers remain on sale via me, through March 31st.


Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

5 Responses to “Panthera atrox in the West”

  1. Ole Bub responds:

    Good morning Bigfoot Bloggers….yes we have black panthers in eastern Oklahoma….I’ve seen black “mountain lions” several times over the past 30 years….nothing cryptic about them here….they seem most common in the alluvial flood plains, swamps and bayous….sound familiar…

    I watched one cross a hay meadow in the snow with field glasses atop my oil storage tanks for several minutes….the tracks were about the size of a mans hand…an obvious cat print….

    seeing is believing…

    ole bub

  2. oldtimer responds:

    I’m in Texas, a couple hundred miles west of Ole Bub. I thought the big pretty black panthers were common knowledge to everyone in the country, but I did know that city folks tend to disbelieve everything that isn’t on the TV.

    The panthers scream like a woman being gutted alive, tracks are the size of my hand with the fingers bent at the knuckles (real easy to track in the snow), I estimate them to be about six feet long (three foot stride on one set of tracks I measured), and the panthers run so fast that they are more like a black blur across a 100 yard section of my property.

    My land is located in the path they use for roaming. I saw one every several days for the year I lived on that section. On occassion we would see one in the headlights of our truck; pretty cats! Their eyes reflect light well too! 🙂

    If panthers are something new to city folks, maybe some folks ought to spend a little time outside their city houses (sorry, I just get a little frustrated by folks saying that some things don’t exist that I know do exist).

    There are lots of critters running around here that we were taught in school should not exist. Locals usually keep quiet about our critters so that city folk won’t come out and kill everything in sight.

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    Before this gets overblown into a rural versus urban debate (hey, I’m a rural kid living in a 60,000 population city now), let me clarify something.

    “Black panthers” are unverified animals – thus cryptids – but well-known to local people.

    It is like telling the Sherpas there are no Yetis in their back forty. State wildlife biologists (unless they have seen one) deny that “black panthers” exist.

    Large, unknown, mystery cats are part of the cryptozoo, needless to say.

  4. OKBFfan responds:

    April, 2002. Lady down in Maysville, Oklahoma not only saw a black cat, but it stopped in front of her car and placed its paws on the hood, peering inside. It then proceeded to pace around her car while she was frozen in terror, and then it simply walked away. Traps were set and nothing ever came of it.

  5. Noah812 responds:

    Yes I can tell you that we do have big cats in Texas. In fact I live 50 miles east of Dallas and I am aware of several sightings. I personally have not seen them but I have heard them on several occassions. My mother saw two large cats walking together just outside of our town. There was a solid black and a dark brown one. They were in morning daylight and seemed to not be in a big hurry so she observed them for 5 + minutes. My mother said they were very large, larger than most big dogs. Hunting in west Texas one hunter observed a big striped cat on two occassions while in his stand moving quickly through a field. Oh and these were not bobcats, just to note mother and friend are skilled hunters. There are alot of things that people are unaware of in the woods.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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