Ailuridae is a family in the mammal order Carnivora. The family consists of the red panda (the sole living representative) and its extinct relatives.

Georges Cuvier first described Ailurus as belonging to the raccoon family in 1825; this classification has been controversial ever since.[1] 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.[1][2][3] 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."[1][4] 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.[5] 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[6] 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).[7]

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.[8]

Temporal range: Oligocene–Recent
Ailurus fulgens RoterPanda LesserPanda
Red panda
Scientific classification

Gray, 1843
Subfamilies and Genera
Ailurus fulgens distribution
Extant red panda distribution.


In addition to Ailurus, the family Ailuridae includes seven extinct genera, most of which are assigned to three subfamilies, Amphicinae, Simocyoninae, and Ailurinae.[9][10][11][12][13]

  • Family Ailuridae (Gray, 1843)
    • Subfamily †Amphictinae (Winge, 1895)
      • Amphictis (Pomel, 1853)
        • Amphictis borbonica (Viret, 1929)
        • Amphictis ambigua (Gervais, 1872)
        • Amphictis milloquensis (Helbing, 1928)
        • Amphictis antiqua (de Blainville, 1842)
        • Amphictis schlosseri (Heizmann and Morlo, 1994)
        • Amphictis prolongata (Morlo, 1996)
        • Amphictis wintershofensis (Roth, 1994)
        • Amphictis cuspida (Nagel, 2003)
        • Amphictis timucua (Baskin, 2017)[14]
    • Subfamily †Simocyoninae (Dawkins, 1868)
      • Actiocyon (Stock, 1947)
        • Actiocyon parverratis (Smith et al., 2016)[15]
        • Actiocyon leardi (Stock, 1947)
      • Alopecocyon (Camp & Vanderhoof, 1940)
        • Alopecocyon getti (Mein, 1958)
        • Alopecocyon goeriachensis (Toula, 1884)
      • Protursus (Crusafont & Kurtén, 1976)
        • Protursus simpsoni (Crusafont & Kurtén, 1976)
      • Simocyon (Wagner, 1858)
        • Simocyon primigenius (Roth & Wagner, 1854)
        • Simocyon diaphorus (Kaup, 1832)
        • Simocyon batalleri (Viret, 1929)
        • Simocyon hungaricus (Kadic & Kretzoi, 1927)
        • Simocyon sp. (Wang et al., 1998)
    • Subfamily Ailurinae (Gray, 1843)
      • Magerictis (Ginsburg et al., 1997)
        • Magerictis imperialis (Ginsburg et al., 1997)
      • Pristinailurus (Wallace & Wang, 2004)
        • Pristinailurus bristoli (Wallace & Wang, 2004)
      • Parailurus (Schlosser, 1899)
        • Parailurus sp. (Morlo & Kundrát, 2001) - Včeláre panda
        • Parailurus hungaricus (Kormos, 1935)
        • Parailurus anglicus (Dawkins, 1888)
        • Parailurus baikalicus (Sotnikova, 2008)
        • Parailurus sp. (Sasagawa et al., 2003) - Japanese panda
        • Parailurus sp. (Tedford & Gustafson, 1977) - American panda
      • Ailurus (F. Cuvier, 1825)
        • Ailurus fulgens (F. Cuvier, 1825) - red panda


  1. ^ a b c Mayr, E (1986). "Uncertainty in Science: is the Giant panda a bear or a raccoon?". Nature. 323 (6091): 769–771. doi:10.1038/323769a0. PMID 3774006.
  2. ^ Zhang, YP; Ryder, OA (1993). "Mitochondrial DNA sequence evolution in the Arctoidea". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 90 (20): 9557–9561. doi:10.1073/pnas.90.20.9557. PMC 47608. PMID 8415740.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ Slattery JP; O'Brien, SJ (1995). "Molecular Phylogeny of the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)". J. Hered. 86 (6): 413–422. PMID 8568209.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Su, Bing, Yunxin Fu, Yingxiang Wang, Li Jin and Ranajit Chakraborty (2001). "Genetic Diversity and Population History of the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) as Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variations". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 18 (6): 1070–1076. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a003878. PMID 11371595.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Li, Wen-Hsiung (2007). Molecular Evolution. Sinauer Associates. ISBN 978-0-87893-480-5.
  6. ^ Flynn et al., 2001
  7. ^ Flynn, John J.; Nedbal, Michael A.; Dragoo, Jerry W.; Honeycutt, Rodney L. (1 November 2000). "Whence the Red Panda?" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 17 (2): 190–199. doi:10.1006/mpev.2000.0819. ISSN 1055-7903.
  8. ^ Roberts, MS & Gittleman, JL (1984). "Ailurus fulgens". Mammalian Species. American Society of Mammalogists. 222 (222): 1–8. doi:10.2307/3503840. JSTOR 3503840.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  9. ^ McKenna, MC; Bell SK (1997). Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231528535.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Peigné, S., M. Salesa, M. Antón, and J. Morales (2005). "Ailurid carnivoran mammal Simocyon from the late Miocene of Spain and the systematics of the genus" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 50: 219–238.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ Salesa, M., M. Antón, S. Peigné, and J. Morales (2006). "Evidence of a false thumb in a fossil carnivore clarifies the evolution of pandas". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (2): 379–382. doi:10.1073/pnas.0504899102. PMC 1326154. PMID 16387860.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ Wallace, SC; Wang, X (2004). "Two new carnivores from an unusual late Tertiary forest biota in eastern North America" (PDF). Nature. 431 (7008): 556–559. doi:10.1038/nature02819. PMID 15457257.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ Morlo, Michael; Peigné, Stéphane (2010). "Molecular and morphological evidence for Ailuridae and a review of its genera". Carnivoran Evolution: New Views on Phylogeny, Form, and Function. pp. 92–140. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139193436.005. ISBN 978-0-521-73586-5.
  14. ^ Jon A. Baskin (2017). "Additional carnivorans from the early Hemingfordian Miller Local Fauna, Florida". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 37 (2): e1293069. doi:10.1080/02724634.2017.1293069.
  15. ^ Kent Smith; Nicholas Czaplewski; Richard Cifelli (2016). "Middle Miocene carnivorans from the Monarch Mill Formation, Nevada". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 61 (1): 231–252. doi:10.4202/app.00111.2014.

Further reading

  • Davis, Davis D. (1964). “The Giant Panda: A Morphological Study of Evolutionary Mechanisms.“ Zoology Memoirs. Vol. 3:1-339.
  • Decker D.M. and W.C. Wozencraft. (1991). “Phylogenetic Analysis of Recent Procyonid Genera.“ Journal of Mammalogy. Vol. 72 (1): 42-55.
  • Flynn, J.J. and G.D. Wesley Hunt. (2005a). “Carnivora.“ in The Rise of Placental Mammals: Origin, Timing and Relationships of the Major Extant Clades, by D. Archibold and K. Rose. Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-8022-X
  • Flynn, John J., et al. (2005b). “Molecular phylogeny of the Carnivora (Mammalia): ASS-ASS the impact of increased sampling to on resolving enigmatic relationships.“ Systematic Biology. Vol. 54 (2):1-21. [1]
  • Flynn, John J. Flynn, Michael A. Nedbal, J.W. Dragoo, and R.L. Honeycutt. (1998) "Whence the Red Panda?" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Vol. 17, No. 2, November 2000, pp. 190–199. [2]
  • Glatston, A.R. (1989). Talk Panda Biology. The Hague. ISBN 90-5103-026-6
  • Glatston, A.R. (compiler) (1994). “The Red Panda, Olingos, Coatis, Raccoons, and their Relatives: Status survey and conservation action plan for Procyonids and Ailurids.”
  • IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid, and Procyonid Specialist Group. IUCN/SSC, Gland, Switzerland.
  • Gregory, W.K. (1936). “On the Phylogenetic Relationships of the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda) to other Arctoid Carnivores.“ American Museum Novitates. Vol. 878:1-29.
  • Hu, J.C. (1990). “Proceedings of studies of the red panda.” Chinese Scientific Publishing, Beijing, China [in Chinese].
  • Wilson, Don E. and DeeAnn M. Reeder. (2005). Mammal of Species of the World. Johns Hopkins University press. ISBN 0-8018-8221-4.

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 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 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 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, 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 (; 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-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 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 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 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 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 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 (“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

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