Ailuropoda is the only extant genus in the ursid (bear) subfamily Ailuropodinae. It contains one living and three fossil species of panda.[4]

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.[4]

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[5] (now Kretzoiarctos).[6]

Temporal range: Pliocene-Present,3.6–0 Ma
Panda ChiangMaiZoo humarkus
The giant panda, the only extant species in the genus and subfamily.
Ailuropoda fovealis skull
Ailuropoda fovealis skull
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Subfamily: Ailuropodinae
Genus: Ailuropoda
Milne-Edwards, 1870[1][2]
Type species
Ailuropoda melanoleuca
David, 1869[3]

A. baconi
A. melanoleuca
A. microta
A. wulingshanensis


Giant panda eye.

From Greek αἴλουρος "cat" + ‒πόδος "foot". Unlike most bears, giant pandas do not have round pupils. They have vertical slits, as do cats' eyes. This has not only inspired the Latin name, but in Chinese the giant panda is called "large bear cat" (大熊猫, dà xióngmāo) and in Standard Tibetan, "cat bear" (བྱི་ལ དྨོ, byi-la dom).


Other pandas

Formerly, the red, or lesser, panda (Ailurus fulgens) was considered closely related to giant pandas. It is no longer considered a bear, however, and is now classified as the sole living representative of a different carnivore family (Ailuridae).


  1. ^ Milne-Edwards, Alphonse (1870). "Note sur quelques mammifères du Thibet oriental". Annales des sciences naturelles, Zoologie. Ser. 5. 14 (10): 1.
  2. ^ Milne-Edwards, Alphonse (1870). "Note sur quelques Mammifères du Thibet oriental". Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l'Académie des sciences. 70: 341–342.
  3. ^ a b David, Armand (1869). "Voyage en Chine". Bulletin des Nouvelles Archives du Muséum. 5: 13. Ursus melanoleucus
  4. ^ a b Jin, Changzhu; Russell L. Ciochon; Wei Dong; Robert M. Hunt Jr.; Jinyi Liu; Marc Jaeger & Qizhi Zhu (June 19, 2007). "The first skull of the earliest giant panda" (PDF; fee required). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (26): 10932–10937. doi:10.1073/pnas.0704198104. PMC 1904166. PMID 17578912. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
  5. ^ J., P. Montoya, and J. Morales. "A New Species of Agriarctos (Ailuropodinae, Ursidae, Carnivora) in the Locality of Nombrevilla 2 (Zaragoza, Spain)." Estudios Geologicos 67.2 (2011): 187-191
  6. ^ Abella, Juan, David M. Alba, Josep M. Robles, Alberto Valenciano, Cheyenn Rotgers, Raül Carmona, Jorge Morales, and Plinio Montoya. "Kretzoiarctos Gen. Nov., the Oldest Member of the Giant Panda Clade." PLOS ONE 7.11 (2012): 1-5.
  7. ^ Pei, Wen-chung (1962). "Guǎngxī liǔchéng jù yuán dòng jí qítā shāndòng de dì sì jì bǔrǔ dòngwù" 广西柳城巨猿洞及其他山洞的第四纪哺乳动物 [Quaternary Mammals from the Liucheng Gigantopithecus Cave and Other Caves of Kwangsi] (PDF). Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 6 (3): 211–218.
  8. ^ Pei, Wen-Chung (1963). "Quaternary Mammals From the Liucheng Gigantopithecus Cave and Other Caves of Kwangsi" (PDF). Scientia Sinica. 12 (2): 221–229.
  9. ^ Wang, Linghong; Lin, Yufen; Chan, Shaowu; Yuan, Jiarong (1982). "Húnán shěng xīběi bù xīn fāxiàn de bǔrǔ dòngwù huàshí jí qí yìyì" 湖南省西北部新发现的哺乳动物化石及其意义 [Mammalian Fossils Found in Northwest Part of Hunan Province and Their Significance] (PDF). Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 20 (4): 350–358.
  10. ^ Woodward, A. Smith (1915). "On the Skull of an extinct Mammal related to Æluropus from a Cave in the Ruby Mines at Mogok, Burma". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (III): 425–428. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1915.tb07605.x.
  11. ^ Wan, Qiu-Hong; Wu, Hua; Fang, Sheng-Guo (2005). "A New Subspecies of Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) from Shaanxi, China". Journal of Mammalogy. 86 (2): 397–402. doi:10.1644/BRB-226.1. JSTOR 4094359.
A. melanoleuca

A. melanoleuca may refer to:

Ailuropoda melanoleuca, the giant panda, a critically endangered mammal species found in China

Amblystoma melanoleuca, a terrestrial salamander species

Atticora melanoleuca, the black-collared swallow, a bird species


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. 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.

Ailuropoda baconi

Ailuropoda baconi is an extinct panda from the Late Pleistocene, 750 thousand years ago, and was preceded by A. wulingshanensis and A. microta as an ancestor of the giant panda, A. melanoleuca. Very little is known about this creature, however its latest fossils have been dated to the Late Pleistocene.

Ailuropoda microta

Ailuropoda microta is the earliest known ancestor of the giant panda. It measured 1 m (3 ft) in length; the modern giant panda grows to a size in excess of 1.5 m (5 ft). Wear patterns on its teeth suggest it lived on a diet of bamboo, the primary food of the giant panda. The first discovered skull of the animal in a south China limestone cave is estimated to be 2 million years old. The skull found is about half the size of a modern-day giant panda, but is anatomically very similar. This research suggests that the giant panda has evolved for more than three million years as a completely separate lineage from that of other bears.


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.


Bears are carnivoran mammals of the family Ursidae. They are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans. Although only eight species of bears are extant, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere. Bears are found on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Common characteristics of modern bears include large bodies with stocky legs, long snouts, small rounded ears, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and short tails.

While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous, and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous with varied diets. With the exception of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals. They may be diurnal or nocturnal and have an excellent sense of smell. Despite their heavy build and awkward gait, they are adept runners, climbers, and swimmers. Bears use shelters, such as caves and logs, as their dens; most species occupy their dens during the winter for a long period of hibernation, up to 100 days.

Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur; they have been used for bear-baiting and other forms of entertainment, such as being made to dance. With their powerful physical presence, they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. In modern times, bears have come under pressure through encroachment on their habitats and illegal trade in bear parts, including the Asian bile bear market. The IUCN lists six bear species as vulnerable or endangered, and even least concern species, such as the brown bear, are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. The poaching and international trade of these most threatened populations are prohibited, but still ongoing.

Giant panda

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally "black and white cat-foot"; Chinese: 大熊猫; pinyin: dà xióng māo, literally "big bear cat"), also known as panda bear or simply panda, is a bear native to south central China. It is easily recognized by the large, distinctive black patches around its eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. The name "giant panda" is sometimes used to distinguish it from the unrelated red panda. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the giant panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents, or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan, but also in neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu. As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.

The giant panda is a conservation-reliant vulnerable species. A 2007 report showed 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. As of December 2014, 49 giant pandas lived in captivity outside China, living in 18 zoos in 13 different countries. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of giant pandas in the wild is on the rise. In March 2015, Mongabay stated that the wild giant panda population had increased by 268, or 16.8%, to 1,864. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from "endangered" to "vulnerable".While the dragon(long) has often served as China's national symbol, internationally the giant panda appears at least as commonly. As such, it is becoming widely used within China in international contexts, for example since 1982 issuing gold panda bullion coins or as one of the five Fuwa mascots of the Beijing Olympics.

Giant panda (disambiguation)

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a bear native to south central China.

Giant panda may also refer to:

Giant Panda (group), an American an hip-hop group

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, an American reggae and jam band

Giant panda snail Hedleyella falconeri

Jia Yueyue and Jia Panpan

Jia Yueyue and Jia Panpan are twin giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) born at the Toronto Zoo on October 13, 2015, to mother, Er Shun. They were the first giant pandas to be born in Canada, and only the second giant panda twins to survive the neonatal period in North America. Their birth was the result of one of two artificial insemination procedures overnight from May 13 to May 14, 2015. The pandas went on public exhibit at the zoo on March 12, 2016. The last day that the giant pandas were viewable at the Toronto Zoo was March 18, 2018. The two pandas now reside with the mother and other adult panda at the Calgary Zoo until 2022 and likely will return to China thereafter.

List of bears

Below follows a list of the different species of bears. Bears indented are a subspecies or type of the species listed above it that is non-indented.

List of carnivorans described in the 2000s

This page is a list of species of the order Carnivora discovered in the 2000s. The order also contains animals once classified separately in Pinnipedia. See also parent page Mammals discovered in the 2000s.


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.


Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.

Qinling panda

The Qinling panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis) is a subspecies of the giant panda, discovered in the 1960s but not recognized as a subspecies until 2005. Disregarding the nominate subspecies, it is the first giant panda subspecies to be recognized. It differs from the more familiar nominate subspecies by its smaller skull and dark brown and light brown (rather than black and white) fur, and its smaller overall size. There are an estimated 200–300 Qinling pandas living in the wild.

On August 30, 1989, a female of this species was captured and brought to the Xi'an Zoo to be mated with a regular giant panda. Her offspring was black-and-white, but reportedly started becoming brownish as it aged. According to other reports she gave birth to three cubs but all of whom died shortly after being born. The mother, named Dan-Dan, died in 2000.

This subspecies is restricted to the Qinling Mountains, at elevations of 1,300–3,000 metres (4,300–9,800 ft). Its coloration is possibly a consequence of inbreeding: as the population is closed off from genetic variation and this might have led to the preservation of the mutation responsible.Due to the Qinling subspecies being captive it has been exposed to toxicants in their bamboo diet. Even though it is not fully known what toxicants it has been exposed it is determined that it was heavy metal from the atmospheric deposition. Thus, the conservation of the Qinling pandas may be compromised in the future due to the issues of air pollution of China.

Rare species

A rare species is a group of organisms that are very uncommon, scarce, or infrequently encountered. This designation may be applied to either a plant or animal taxon, and is distinct from the term endangered or threatened. Designation of a rare species may be made by an official body, such as a national government, state, or province. The term more commonly appears without reference to specific criteria. The IUCN does not normally make such designations, but may use the term in scientific discussion.Rarity rests on a specific species being represented by a small number of organisms worldwide, usually fewer than 10,000. However, a species having a very narrow endemic range or fragmented habitat also influences the concept. Almost 75% of known species can be classified as "rare."The International Union for Conservation of Nature uses the term "rare" as a designation for species found in isolated geographical locations. They are not endangered but classified as "at risk."A species may be endangered or vulnerable, but not considered rare if it has a large, dispersed population. Rare species are generally considered threatened because a small population size is more likely to not recover from ecological disasters.Rare species are species with small populations. Many move into the endangered or vulnerable category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. Examples of rare species include the Himalayan brown bear, Fennec fox, Wild Asiatic buffalo and Hornbill.

A rare plant's legal status can be observed through the USDA's Plants Database.


Speothos is a genus of canid found in Central and South America. The genus includes the living bush dog, Speothos venaticus, and an extinct Pleistocene species, Speothos pacivorus. Unusually, the fossil species was identified and named before the extant species was discovered, with the result that the type species of Speothos is S. pacivorus.

Wushan Man

Wushan Man (Chinese: 巫山人; pinyin: Wūshānrén, literally "Shaman Mountain Man") are the remains of an extinct ape. Originally considered a subspecies of Homo erectus (H. e. wushanensis), it is now thought to be based upon fossilized fragments of an extinct non-hominin ape.

The remains that have become known as "Wushan Man" were found in 1985 in Longgupo (龙骨坡, literally "Dragon Bone Slope" which is an alternate English name for it), Zhenlongping Village, Miaoyu Town of Wushan County, Chongqing in the Three Gorges area of China 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the Yangtze River. They have been dated to around two million years ago.

Extant Carnivora species

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.