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Home > Biodiversity > Fossa: The Island's Top Dogs

The fossa [FOO-suh] is one of the world's strangest carnivores: as sleek as a greyhound, the tan animal has the face of a puma, the elongated tail of a leopard and the feisty personality of the mongoose Rikki Tikki Tavi. Though not much bigger than a fox, it is Madagascar's top predator, a mammal seemingly built to consume lemurs. Once thought to be related to cats, the fossa is now considered a distant relative of the mongoose.

Very little is known about the habits, habitats or even numbers of the fierce fossa because it is so hard to study. But Luke Dollar, a graduate student at Duke University, says the fossa's position at the top of the food chain makes understanding the creature a priority. Dollar has spent the last five years trying to unlock the carnivore's secrets. He has trapped fossas, examined them thoroughly and equipped some with radio collars to track their activities once they are back in the wild.

On the Trail of the Fossa
Luke Dollar and his research team set out to track and capture the ellusive predator.

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