(evolution of the housecat)
The underwater panther in some native american mythologies tended to combine traits of wild cats such as the mountain lion, or in some cases the lynx, with those of snakes.
Mishipizheu were said to live in the deepest parts of lakes and rivers. The Ojibwa reportedly held them to be masters of all water creatures as well as of snakes. Some versions of the Nanabozho creation legend refer to whole communities of water lynx.
Potawatomi medicine bags sometimes had an image of the underwater panther on one side and the Thunderbird, master of the powers of the air, on the other. As late as the 1950s, the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Indians performed their traditional ceremony to placate the Underworld Panther and maintain balance with the Thunderbird.
In a 2003 article in the Cambridge Archaeological Survey, Brad Lepper makes the case that the Alligator Mound in Granville, Ohio, is not an alligator at all but rather an effigy of an underwater panther, particularly since the tribes of Ohio were unlikely to have been familiar with alligators. The confusion is thought to be the result of misinterpretation by early European settlers, who upon inquiring of Native Americans regarding the underwater panther, were told that it was a fierce creature that lived in the water, which they assumed to be alligators.
When ethnographer Johann Kohl visited the United States in the 1850s, he spoke with a Fond du Lac Chief, who showed Kohl a piece of copper that was kept in his medicine bag, citing that it was a strand of hair from the mishibizhiw, and thus considered extremely powerful.