Panthers on the Prowl


Ben Hughes, Managing Editor

    Mehlville High School has been the home of the Panthers since 1930. Coincidentally, only 3 out of 10 Mehlville students knew exactly what a panther is.

    There are many common  misconceptions when it comes to the typical “black panther” that we see all around our school. First of all, the black panther is not its own species. The word panther is actually just a broad term to describe any big cat, of any species, with a black coat.

    Most “panthers” are truly just a different species of big cats that has a dominant allele A of the Agouti gene. The Agouti gene is the hereditary ingredient that controls the distribution of black pigment in many animals such as horses, and other big animals. The Agouti gene is most common in leopards in Asia and Africa, and jaguars in South America.

    These big cats are not pure black in color, though. They still have their typical spots in rosette-like patterns. These cat’s coats look different from different perspectives and can change in different lighting. From a distance, these cats can look solid black, but when up close you can see the distinctive patterns glittering off the black coat.

    Another common misconception is that a black coat can aid these cats in hunting and camouflage. But in reality, it is easier for animals to detect another animal with a solid black coat then it is to detect a spotted animal.

    Now that you know what a panther really is, you can be on the prowl to show your panther pride throughout the school.