The Black Bear of America is distinguished from his fellows, and more especially from the brown bear of Europe, which he approaches most nearly in size and form, by few very striking external differences, except the colour of his fur. His forehead has a slight elevation; his muzzle is elongated, and somewhat flattened above; and his hair, though long and straight, has less shagginess than that of most of the other species of the group. In colour it is of a uniform shining jet-black, except on the muzzle, where it is short and fawn-coloured, becoming almost gray on the lips and sides of the mouth. This, however, it should be observed, is the character only of the full-grown animal: the young are first of a bright ash colour, which gradually changes to a deep brown, and finally fixes in the glossy black tint of mature age.
Felis Caracal. Linn.
In their natural habits the numerous species of which this group is composed approach very closely to the Deer; there is, however, considerable variety in their mode of life. They inhabit almost every description of country; the sandy desert, the open plain, the thicket, the forest, the mountain, and the precipice, being, each in its turn, the favourite haunt of the different races; but, with the exception of a few species, they do not advance much beyond the limits of the tropics. The smaller ones usually prefer a solitary life, but the larger, for the most part, congregate together in herds, which are generally few in number. In their manners they exhibit much of that cautious vigilance and easily startled timidity, combined with a certain degree of occasional boldness and not a little curiosity, which are the natural consequences of their wild and unrestricted habits, of their trivial means of defence against the numerous enemies to whose attacks they are exposed, and of the unequalled fleetness of their speed. In some this latter quality consists of a continued and uniform gallop, which in others is interrupted at every third or fourth stroke by a long and generally a lofty bound, producing a beautiful effect by its constant and rapid recurrence.