One of my favorite photos I took, out on the Serengeti, was a leopard who carried his prey up a tree for safe keeping, and ultimately, dinner. So, how did the leopard get his spots?
There has to be a name for everything. In zoology, the joy of naming things in technical ways is obvious in all sorts of areas, from the sometimes silly names given to groups of animals (it’s a “tower” of giraffes, believe it or not) to, yes, the spots of a leopard. The spots are called “rosettes,” a reference to their somewhat floral appearance. To be clear, though, the leopards don’t have a monopoly on this one. “Rosette” is the appropriate term for any of the rose-like markings in the fur of animals (particularly cats), so you can feel free to use it in describing ocelots, too, as well as certain types of jaguars, cheetahs, and even lions.
Speaking of spots: This is one of the most popular breeds of dogs. Dalmatians are medium-sized dogs, noted for their unique black-spotted white coat. It has a white coat spotted with black or brown markings. Historically, Dalmatians have been used as a carriage dog. This breed is very active and can run as fast as horses. Every Dalmatian is different and has these marks all over its body. If you open up a Dalmatian’s mouth, you can even find spots in their mouth!
Then there is the hyena: Spotted hyenas are the largest of three hyena species. Every hyena has a unique spot pattern. Some hyenas have short, blond fur with large dark spots. Others have fluffy, reddish fur with fuzzy spots. These beasts are skilled hunters that will take down wildebeest or antelope. They are scavengers that feed on the leftovers of other predators. Spotted hyenas have good hearing and sharp night sight. They are fast and long-distance runners.
How now, spotted cow? Holstein Friesian cows are the black-and-white dairy cows. They are a breed of dairy cattle originating from North Holland and Friesland; these beautiful spotted cows are the world’s highest production dairy animals. These cows have a white coat with distinct and big black patches. No two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots, much like human fingerprints. Research has shown that their color is a result of recessive genetics.
Did you know Labradoodles can be spotted, like our Lexi, and are considered Australian Labradoodles? They are a cross between a poodle, and a Lab mixed with either Springer Spaniel or Cocker Spaniel. Underneath her mostly white hair are numerous brown spots. Not to mention her chocolate face. Someone spilled chocolate on her head!
This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about spots on animals.