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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 ?
The findings of prominent collaterals in the popliteal fossa in conjunction with poor visualization of the native popliteal artery on ultrasonography, along with the absence of the distal popliteal pulse, raised concerns for PAES.
The back of the thigh, the popliteal fossa, and the back of lower leg has been dissected.
A 45-year-old female patient presented with a painless and nodular lesion in the right popliteal fossa. The tumor grew slowly in the past three months.
Immediate postprocedure duplex ultrasonography revealed normal patency of the popliteal fossa arteries and veins without vessel wall irregularities.
The measured morphological characteristics were height, body mass, the center of the popliteal fossa (CPF), ATL, and AT thickness (ATT).
Physical examination revealed no mass within the popliteal fossa and normal arterial pulses within the femoral, popliteal, dorsalis pedis and posterior tibial arteries.
The oblique popliteal ligament forms part of the floor of the popliteal fossa, and the popliteal artery rests upon it.
However, there was a striking sparing of the abdominal creases, antecubital fossa and the popliteal fossa (Figures 1 and 2).
Participants were required to wear shorts or a skirt for the measurements, without any leg coverings, to enable the ultrasonographer sufficient access to the popliteal fossa for probe positioning.
Thirty-five years later, at age 55, the patient presented with a subcutaneous nodule in her right popliteal fossa, and an excisional biopsy showed the presence of melanoma within the popliteal nodes.
A A Baker's Cyst or popliteal cyst is basically swelling that develops at the back of the knee - the area known as the popliteal fossa. The swelling is caused by excess joint fluid building in the area.