The main focus of this entry will be the jaguar, but it should be noted that the black panther is actually the same species as the jaguar. The black coat is simply a color variation. Jaguar is a Native American word meaning, “he who kills with one blow.” The jaguar actually originated in North America, though now it only lives in Central and parts of South America. The jaguar moved south when Central America formed into a land bridge. Jaguars prefer habitats like jungles and swamps, but also like semi-arid mountainous regions, so long as the area is forested. The jaguar is also one of the few cats to like water, and often can be seen playing in it.
As for the mythology and legends, the jaguar was seen as a god in Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala, in pre-Columbian America. The Mayans, Aztecs, and Inca all worshiped the jaguar in some form. In the pantheon, the jaguar god was second only to the snake god in religious importance. At the Temple of the Jaguar at Chichen Itza, the king had to walk beneath a frieze of a procession of jaguars during his coronation ceremony. [Read more…]