Cousin to the Oncilla (AKA the tigrina), the newly dubbed Southern tigrina bears a strong resemblance to the species it was mistaken for. The only physical characteristics that distinguish it from the Oncilla are its slightly darker coloration, slightly larger spots, slightly shorter tail, and slightly more rounded ears. Analysis of DNA, however, has revealed striking differences. The genetic “gulf” between the two cats is as great as between any two cat species, despite their ultra-similar appearances. The two cats are, in fact, two different species.
Interestingly enough, one species turning out to be two has happened before. The Nile crocodile, along with the tigrina, is what scientists are calling “cryptic species.” The Nile crocodile is actually a group of two species that are only distantly related.