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Though many people believe it to be a creature of myth, the blue tiger may be a rare species of big cat. Also known as the Maltese tiger, it would feature a light gray coloration that makes the animal appear almost blue in color. These types of tigers have only been reported in human sightings, and no photos or videos of the animals have ever been recorded.
Sightings of blue-colored tigers have been reported since the early 1900s. These blue cats may also simply be extinct tigers, accounting for the lack of physical evidence for their existence. Reports of sightings vary in location, though most of them originate in areas of China, such as in the Fujian Province. If the tigers do exist, they are likely a sub-species of the South Chinese tiger. Other places where the blue tiger has reportedly been seen include Burma and Korea.
People who report seeing the blue tiger have called it many other names. Some villages referred to the creature as blue devils, and claimed that they were man-eating beasts who often stalked humans. This led to an interest in the big cat by many hunters who unsuccessfully attempted to locate and kill the blue tiger for its pelt. Some researchers claim that a blue tiger was born in Oklahoma during the 1960s. No record of this exists, however, and many scientists believe that the animal was likely a pseudomelanistic tiger, or black tiger, whose stripes were very thick and close together.
Cryptozoologists continue to study and search for the animals, hoping to acquire some type of proof that they are real. Some scientists believe that the animals are an example of a non-threatening mutation resulting from genetics, much like the coloration of the endangered white tiger. A recessive pair of alleles, or forms of genes, known as the non-agouti allele and the diluted allele, are cited as possible reasons for the coloration of the blue tiger, as are several other alleles.
Domestic cats with this coloration, such as the Russian Blue variety, help serve as proof that such a color of cat may exist in larger form. Should a blue tiger truly exist, researchers say it would like have very faded to no visible stripes at all because of its color. Blue examples of other wild cats, such as bobcats, have been reported as well. Interest in hunting the tiger coupled with the rarity of its recessive genes could explain its rarity or extinction.
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