Form and FunctionFossa climbing through tree

Cryptoprocta ferox ranges from 7 to 12 kg (15.5 to 26.5 lbs) and 610 to 800 mm (2 to 2.6 feet) (Animal Diversity Web, 2013). It has a similar structure to species in Felidae, but appears to share traits similar to many organisms. It has been so cleverly described as having features similar to a dog’s nose, otter’s whiskers and a leopard’s teeth (Sunquist, 2000). It has a long, slender body and short legs, which help them to maneuver through trees as quickly as they do.
    A couple other aspects of C. ferox are that they have teeth similar to felines and retractable claws, as well. These are useful in capturing and holding prey, such as lemurs. Also, the claws are essential for climbing up and running through the trees (Garbutt, 2003), which they are capable of doing with grace and ease. Here is a video showing how the fossa moves flawlessly through the trees of Madagascar. Another feature of the fossa that helps with running through trees is their tail, which is nearly as long as their body (Kohncke & Leonhardt, 1986). The tail actually plays an important role for the fossa when it is moving through the trees. It helps to provide balance for the animal, similar to the pole of a tightrope walker (National Geographic, 2013).

Image credit: Nick Garbutt at


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