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carnivorous mammal, Cryptoprocta ferox, of Madagascar. The island's largest carnivore, the fossa resembles a pumapuma
or cougar
, New World member of the cat family, Puma concolor. Also known as mountain lion, catamount, panther, and painter, it ranges from S British Columbia to the southern tip of South America. The puma is slenderly built, with a lionlike face.
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 in appearance and has semiretractable claws, but it is most closely related to Madagascar's other native carnivores and to the mongoosemongoose,
name for a large number of small, carnivorous, terrestrial Old World mammals of the civet family. They are found in S Asia and in Africa, with one species extending into S Spain.
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 and civetcivet
or civet cat,
any of a large group of mostly nocturnal mammals of the Old World family Viverridae (civet family), which also includes the mongoose. Civets are not true cats, but the civet family is related to the cat family (Felidae).
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. Its slender body may be more than 5 ft (1.5 m) long including the tail, which makes up about half of the total length, and the largest males may weigh as much as 26 lb (12 kg). The female is somewhat smaller. The coat is generally reddish brown above and cream below.

The fossa is found in both humid and dry forests and is an agile climber. A generally solitary animal, it preys on lemurs, wild pigs, and other mammals as well as fish and birds; it hunts by ambush. During mating season several males compete for a female, who rests high in a tree; the tree may be used for mating, and then used as a mating ground by another female when the first leaves. There are two to four young in a litter. The young are blind and helpless when born, and remain the mother for about a year and a half. Largely because of habitat destruction, the fossa is endangered.

The fossa is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Eupleridae.


(foss -ă) (plural: fossae) a long narrow shallow depression. The word is used in the approved name of such a surface feature on a planet or satellite.



(Cryptoprocta ferox), a predatory mammal of the family Viverridae. The body measures as much as 76 cm in length and as much as 37 cm in height; the tail measures approximately 65 cm in length. The fossa, the largest predator of the island of Madagascar, has a massive body with relatively long, thick extremities and semiretractile claws. It somewhat resembles a cat, but the head is longer. The fur is short, smooth, and reddish brown.

The fossa inhabits forests and feeds on birds and small mammals. It is terrestrial but may climb trees when chasing lemurs. It is active at night. The animal attacks domestic fowl and young domestic swine.


Mammals of the World, vol. 2. Baltimore, Md., 1964.


A pit or depression.
(vertebrate zoology)
Cryptoprocta ferox. A Madagascan carnivore related to the civets.
References in periodicals archive ?
(cm) a Lateral alveolar root to mental 2.45 0.02 0.008 foramina b Mental foramina to caudal mandibular 13.43 0.20 0.081 border c Mandibular length 16.53 0.31 0.128 d Mandibular foramen to base of 4.18 0.03 0.014 mandible e Mandibular foramen to caudal 1.85 0.02 0.011 mandibular border f Maximum height of mandible to the 3.09 0.02 0.008 condyloid fossa g Condyloid fossa to base of the 7.57 0.06 0.024 mandible h Maximum mandibular height 10.69 0.05 0.024 i Width of mental foramina 0.30 0.02 0.011 j Height of mental foramina 0.53 0.02 0.009
--Condyloid fossa to mandible base (CFMB): From the condyloid fossa to the base of the mandible.
The mandibular length (12.7cm) and maximum mandibular height (7.7cm) in this study were higher than the values obtained for West African Dwarfs in the southwestern and southeastern parts of Nigeria which were 12.0cm and 7.0cm, and 11.81cm and 7.11cm respectively (Olopade & Onwuka, 2005, 2006), similar observations were seen in the values of the distances between the condyloid fossa and height of mandible, condyloid fossa to mandible base and from the mental foramen to the caudal border of the mandible (Figs.