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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 ?
Aside from the Cerberus Fossae landsides, the HiRISE camera also recently captured an image of a crater with sand in Mars' Amazonis Planitia.
Greenhouse gases exhaled during the eruptions that spawned the Medusae Fossae could have warmed Mars's surface enough for water to remain liquid at its surface, but toxic volcanic gases like hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide would have altered the chemistry of Mars's surface and atmosphere.
It turns out that the sediments of the Medusae Fossae formation, which in some places reach depths of z more than 2 km, sit atop a flat, featureless surface that's probably a continuation of the volcanic plains to the north.
Before considering the detailed anatomy of the ischiorectal fossae one needs an appreciation of the regional anatomy, namely the perineum.
It is thought the broken-up nature of Nili Fossae may be linked to the Isidis impact basin, formed long ago by an asteroid or comet.
First discovered by NASA's Mariner spacecraft nearly half a century ago, Medusae Fossae covers a 600-mile long region or approximately 20 percent of the continental United States in terms of size.
The scientists also discuss the potential of the Archean volcanics of the East Pilbara region of Western Australia as an analog for the Nochian Nili Fossae on Mars, which indicate that biomarkers or evidence of living organisms.
The lesion was found to extend to the nasal fossae, maxillary sinuses, periorbital fat, and bilaterally to the extrinsic ocular musculature (figure 2).
First discovered by NASA's Mariner spacecraft in the 1960s, Medusae Fossae is a massive, easily-eroded deposit of soft-rock that runs along the equator of the red planet.
Although Mars researchers have caught dusty avalanches falling from the planet's north polar cap (S&T: June 2008, page 15), they haven't found boulder cascades anywhere else, so the situation in Cerberus Fossae could be unique.
The upper portion of the image swath shows the eastern margin of Kasei Valles and the western margin of the Lunae Planum plateau and the adjoining Sacra Fossae.
The lesion appears as a painless unilateral swelling along the upper half of the ear, usually in the area of the scaphoid or triangular fossae adjacent to the helix.