The Physics of Big Cats

by Jessalyn GInnaty
Big cats are amazing creatures whose lives are constantly
putting the world of physics on display. From cheetahs to
lions and jaguars to tigers, these cats are full of wonders to
be uncovered.
01 Speed | Cheetahs
02 Sound | Tigers
03 Vocals | Purring vs Roaring
04 Works Cited

(via catsmeowforme)

Purring vs Roaring

Something many people do not realize is that cheetahs, while residing in the same general habitat as lions, are not even in the same genus as it. While considering this fact, recall all the big cats that can roar. These cats, including the lion, are in the Panthera genus and they have what is called an incompletely ossified hyoid. The hyoid is a bone found in animals’ necks and it aids in things like tongue and other muscle movements. If the ossification of this bone is not complete, it allows for an elongated vocal tract, thus making it possible for lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars to roar. An incompletely ossified hyoid may mean roaring, but it also means interrupting what is usually a constant purr. Cats of the Panthera genus only produce purring sounds while exhaling. But, if, as in the cheetahs case, the hyoid is complete, purring can be produce constantly on both inhale and exhale.