"Black panther" is a term that does not denote any particular species of cat. Instead, it refers to any all-black feline that is large enough to count as a big cat. Science only recognizes two types of legitimate black panther.
One is the black color phase of the leopard (an animal found in Africa, Asia and, in historical times, parts of Europe). The other is the black color phase of the jaguar (an animal found in South America and Central America, with a historic range that once penetrated into much of the southern United States). A few purists insist that the term "black panther" can only be applied to leopards, but these are in the minority. In both jaguars and leopards, black panthers are often born in the same litter as normal, spotted siblings and do not form a species or subspecies of their own.
Outside of accepted science, there are more varieties of black panther. Some of them are too large to be a jaguar or leopard, or are in a place where no jaguars or leopards are thought to live. Others look like all-black versions of a cat species that is not known to produce such animals, such as black tigers (the darkest confirmed tigers still have orange stripes) or all-black cougars (confirmed black cougars are extremely rare, and all of them so far have had white stomachs, unlike the "black cougars" in sightings). Some of the mystery black panthers have paranormal powers or other very strange features that make them biologically absurd, such as the half-human feline bipeds that are reported from many areas of the world.
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