How leopard leftovers might help solve forensic cases
A leopard (Panthera pardus). Image from Wikipedia.
When a leopard eats a baboon, what is left behind? This question is not only relevant to primatologists and zoologists. Even though instances of predation on humans is relatively rare, big cats still kill and consume people, and when they do they can virtually obliterate a body. Yet, just like a human criminal, the dining habits of big cats leave tell-tale clues, and in 2004 researchers Travis Pickering and Kristian Carlson fed two captive leopards eight complete baboon carcasses each in order catalog the most useful ways to identify the victim of a big cat kill.
This experimental design is a classic. Way back in 1822, when the English geologist