Georges Cuvier first described Ailurus as belonging to the raccoon family in 1825; this classification has been controversial ever since. It was classified in the raccoon family because of morphological similarities of the head, colored ringed tail, and other morphological and ecological characteristics. Somewhat later, it was assigned to the bear family.
Molecular phylogenetic studies show that, as an ancient species in the order Carnivora, the red panda is relatively close to the American raccoon and may be either a monotypic family or a subfamily within the procyonid family. An in-depth mitochondrial DNA population analysis study stated: “According to the fossil record, the Red Panda diverged from its common ancestor with bears about 40 million years ago." With this divergence, by comparing the sequence difference between the red panda and the raccoon, the observed mutation rate for the red panda was calculated to be on the order of 109, which is apparently an underestimate compared with the average rate in mammals. This underestimation is probably due to multiple recurrent mutations as the divergence between the red panda and the raccoon is extremely deep.
The most recent molecular-systematic DNA research places the red panda into its own independent family, Ailuridae. Ailuridae are, in turn, part of a trichotomy within the broad superfamily Musteloidea that also includes the Procyonidae (raccoons) and a group that further subdivides into the Mephitidae (skunks) and Mustelidae (weasels); but it is not a bear (Ursidae).
Red pandas have no close living relatives, and their nearest fossil ancestors, Parailurus, lived 3-4 million years ago. There may have been as many as three different species of Parailurus, all larger and more robust in the head and jaw than Ailurus, living in Eurasia and possibly crossing the Bering Strait into the Americas. The red panda may be the sole surviving species - a specialized offshoot surviving the last glacial period in a Chinese mountain refuge.
Temporal range: Oligocene–Recent
|Subfamilies and Genera|
|Extant red panda distribution.|
Ailuropoda is the only extant genus in the ursid (bear) subfamily Ailuropodinae. It contains one living and three fossil species of panda.Only one species—Ailuropoda melanoleuca—currently exists; the other four species are prehistoric chronospecies. Despite its taxonomic classification as a carnivoran, the giant panda has a diet that is primarily herbivorous, which consists almost exclusively of bamboo.
Giant pandas have descended from Ailurarctos, which lived during the late Miocene.In 2011 fossil teeth from over 11 mya found in the Iberian peninsula were identified as belonging to a previously unidentified species in the Ailuropodinae subfamily This species was named Agriarctos beatrix (now Kretzoiarctos).Ailuropodinae
Ailuropodinae is a subfamily of Ursidae that contains only one extant species, the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) of China. The fossil record of this group have shown that various species of pandas were more widespread across the Holarctic, with species found in places such as Europe, much of Asia and even North America. The earliest pandas were not unlike other modern bear species in that they had an omnivorous diet but by around 2.4 million years, pandas have evolved to be more herbivorous.Alopecocyon
Alopecocyon was a small relative of the modern red panda. It weighed only about 11 lb (5 kg). It was closely related to Simocyon, a larger member of its group. Its fossils have been found in France, Poland, and Slovakia.Arctoidea
Arctoidea is an infraorder of mostly carnivorous mammals which include the extinct Hemicyonidae (dog-bears), and the extant Musteloidea (weasels, raccoons, skunks, red pandas), Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions), and Ursidae (bears), found in all continents from the Eocene, 46 million years ago, to the present.
Arctoids are caniforms, along with dogs (canids) and extinct bear dogs (Amphicyonidae).
The earliest caniforms were superficially similar to martens, which are tree-dwelling mustelids.
Together with feliforms, caniforms comprise the order Carnivora.Caniformia
Caniformia, or Canoidea (literally "dog-like"), is a suborder within the order Carnivora. They typically possess a long snout and nonretractile claws (in contrast to the cat-like carnivorans, the Feliformia). The Pinnipedia (seals, walruses and sea lions) are also assigned to this group. The center of diversification for Caniformia is North America and northern Eurasia. This contrasts with the feliforms, the center of diversification of which was in Africa and southern Asia.Carnivora
Carnivora (; from Latin carō (stem carn-) "flesh" and vorāre "to devour") is a diverse scrotiferan order that includes over 280 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, whereas the word "carnivore" (often popularly applied to members of this group) can refer to any meat-eating organism. Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), at as little as 25 g (0.88 oz) and 11 cm (4.3 in), to the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), to the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), whose adult males weigh up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measure up to 6.7 m (22 ft) in length.
Carnivorans have teeth and claws adapted for catching and eating other animals. Many hunt in packs and are social animals, giving them an advantage over larger prey. Some carnivorans, such as cats and pinnipeds, depend entirely on meat for their nutrition. Others, such as raccoons and bears, are more omnivorous, depending on the habitat. The giant panda is largely a herbivore, but also feeds on fish, eggs and insects. The polar bear subsists mainly on seals.
Carnivorans are split into two suborders: Feliformia ("catlike") and Caniformia ("doglike").Ferret-badger
Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.
Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)
Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)Futa (panda)
Futa (born 2003) is a male red panda (Ailurus fulgens) in the zoo of Chiba, Japan. In 2005, he became a visitor attraction and a television celebrity in Japan for his ability to stand upright on his hind feet for about ten seconds at a time.At the time, this feat drew about 6,000 visitors to the zoo each weekend and resulted in Futa's appearance in a soft drink television advertisement. Futa inspired the character of Pabu, an animal companion in the animated U.S. TV series The Legend of Korra.List of species in order Carnivora
This list contains the species in order Carnivora.Lutrogale
Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.Mephitis (genus)
The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.Musteloidea
Musteloidea is a superfamily of carnivoran mammals united by shared characters of the skull and teeth. Musteloids share a common ancestor with the pinnipeds, the group which includes seals.The Musteloidea consists of the families Ailuridae (red pandas), Mustelidae (mustelids: weasels, otters,
martens, and badgers), Procyonidae (procyonids: raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, olingos, olinguitos, ringtails and cacomistles), and Mephitidae (skunks and stink badgers).
In North America, ursoids and musteloids first appear in the Chadronian (late Eocene). In Europe, ursoids and musteloids first appear in the early Oligocene immediately following the Grande Coupure.
The cladogram is based on molecular phylogeny of six genes in Flynn (2005), with the musteloids updated following the multigene analysis of Law et al (2018).Nyctereutes
Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.
Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.Parailurus
Parailurus is a genus of extinct carnivoran mammal in the family Ailuridae. Parailurus, which was about 50% larger than Ailurus (red panda), lived in the early to late Pliocene Epoch, and its fossils have been found in Europe, North America, and Japan.The fossils of P. baikalicus carry low-crowned lower molars, along with the main cuspids of the cheek teeth being worn horizontally. This suggests P. baikalicus commonly ate leaves.Pristinailurus bristoli
Pristinailurus bristoli (Bristol's panda) is a fossil species in the carnivoran family Ailuridae, well-represented in the Hemphillian deposits of Gray, Tennessee. It was significantly larger than the living Ailurus, but probably possessed a weaker bite. Males appear to have been as much as twice the size of females.Procyonidae
Procyonidae is a New World family of the order Carnivora. It comprises the raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, olingos, olinguitos, ringtails, and cacomistles. Procyonids inhabit a wide range of environments and are generally omnivorous.Red panda
The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because the wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.The red panda has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs; it is roughly the size of a domestic cat, though with a longer body and somewhat heavier. It is arboreal, feeds mainly on bamboo, but also eats eggs, birds, and insects. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day. It is also called the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, and the red cat-bear.The red panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It has been previously placed in the raccoon and bear families, but the results of phylogenetic analysis provide strong support for its taxonomic classification in its own family, Ailuridae, which is part of the superfamily Musteloidea, along with the weasel, raccoon and skunk families. Two subspecies are recognized. It is not closely related to the giant panda, which is a basal ursid.Simocyon
Simocyon (“short-snouted dog”) is a genus of extinct carnivoran mammal in the family Ailuridae. Simocyon, which was about the size of a mountain lion, lived in the late Miocene and early Pliocene epochs, and has been found in Europe, Asia, and, rarely, North America (Peigné et al., 2005) and Africa.
Extant Carnivora species