Feral cats in Northern California have enabled researchers to unlock the biological secret behind a rare, striped cheetah found only in sub-Saharan Africa, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama. The study is the first to identify a molecular basis of coat patterning in mammals.
The King Cheetah has a recessive fur pattern mutation. First discovered in Zimbabwe in 1926, this very rare animal has been seen in the wild only 6 times. Modern cheetahs are so genetically similar as to be virtual clones, making this novel coat pattern all the more interesting.