Panthera is a genus within the Felidae family that was named and first described by the German naturalist Lorenz Oken in 1816. The British taxonomist Pocock revised the classification of this genus in 1916 as comprising the species lion, tiger, jaguar, and leopard on the basis of cranial features. Results of genetic analysis indicate that the snow leopard also belongs to the Panthera, a classification that was accepted by IUCN Red List assessors in 2008.
The tiger, lion, leopard, and jaguar are the only felines with the anatomical structure that enables them to roar. The primary reason for this was formerly assumed to be the incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone. However, new studies show the ability to roar is due to other morphological features, especially of the larynx. The snow leopard does not roar. Although it has an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone, it lacks the special morphology of the larynx.
|Tiger (Panthera tigris), the largest species of the genus Panthera|
|Radial bone of Panthera fossilis|
The word panther derives from classical Latin panthēra, itself from the ancient Greek pánthēr (πάνθηρ). The word originated in antiquity in the Orient, probably from India to Persia to Greece. A common folk etymology derives the word from Greek pan- (πάν), meaning "all", and thēr (θήρ).
In Panthera species, the dorsal profile of the skull is flattish or evenly convex. The frontal interorbital area is not noticeably elevated, and the area behind the elevation is less steeply sloped. The basicranial axis is nearly horizontal. The inner chamber of the bullae is large, the outer small. The partition between them is close to the external auditory meatus. The convexly rounded chin is sloping. All Panthera species have an incompletely ossified hyoid bone. Specially adapted larynx with proportionally larger vocal folds are covered in a large fibro-elastic pad. These characteristics enable all Panthera species except snow leopard to roar.
Panthera probably evolved in Asia, but the roots of the genus remain unclear. Genetic studies indicate that pantherine cats diverged from the subfamily Felinae between six and ten million years ago. Fossil records that appear to belong within the genus Panthera reach only 2.0 to 3.8 million years back.
The snow leopard was initially seen at the base of Panthera, but newer molecular studies suggest that it is nestled within Panthera and is a sister species of the tiger. Many place the snow leopard within the genus Panthera, but there is currently no consensus as to whether the snow leopard should retain its own genus Uncia or be moved to Panthera uncia. Since 2008, the IUCN Red List lists it as Panthera uncia using Uncia uncia as a synonym.
Results of a mitogenomic study suggest the phylogeny can be represented as Neofelis nebulosa (Panthera tigris (Panthera onca (Panthera pardus, (Panthera leo, Panthera uncia)))). About Panthera separated from other felid species and then evolved into the several species of the genus. N. nebulosa appears to have diverged about , P. tigris about , P. uncia about and P. pardus about . Mitochondrial sequence data from fossils suggest that the American lion (P. l. atrox) is a sister lineage to P. spelaea that diverged about .
The prehistoric cat Panthera onca gombaszogensis, often called the European jaguar, is probably closely related to the modern jaguar. The earliest evidence of the species was obtained at Olivola in Italy, and dates 1.6 million years.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, various explorers and staff of natural history museums suggested numerous subspecies, or at times called races, for all Panthera species. The taxonomist Pocock reviewed skins and skulls in the zoological collection of the Natural History Museum, London and grouped subspecies described, thus shortening the lists considerably. Since the mid-1980s, several Panthera species became subject of genetic research, mostly using blood samples of captive individuals. Study results indicate that many of the lion and leopard subspecies are questionable because of insufficient genetic distinction between them. Subsequently, it was proposed to group all African leopard populations to P. p. pardus and retain eight subspecific names for Asian leopard populations.
Based on genetic research, it was suggested to group all living sub-Saharan lion populations into P. l. leo. Results of phylogeographic studies indicate that the Western and Central African lion populations are more closely related to those in India and form a different clade than lion populations in Southern and East Africa; southeastern Ethiopia is an admixture region between North African and East African lion populations.
In 2018, results of a phylogenetic study on living and fossil cats were published. This study was based on the morphological diversity of the mandibles of saber-toothed cats, their speciation and extinction rates. The generated cladogram indicates a different relation of the Panthera species, as shown below:
The following list of the genus Panthera is based on the taxonomic assessment in Mammal Species of the World and reflects the taxonomy revised in 2017 by the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group:
|Tiger P. tigris
|Tigers of mainland Asia P. t. tigris including:
|Lion P. leo
|P. l. leo including:|
|Jaguar P. onca
|Leopard P. pardus
|African leopard P. p. pardus
Arabian leopard P. p. nimr
|Snow leopard P. uncia
|†Panthera atrox||North America, dubious remains in South America.||P. atrox is thought to have descended from a basal P. spelaea cave lion population isolated south of the North American continental ice sheet, and then established a mitochondrial sister clade circa 200,000 BP. It was sometimes considered a subspecies either under the nomenclature of P. leo or P. spelaea.|
|†Panthera blytheae||Tibetan Plateau||One of the oldest known Panthera species, possibly closely related to the snow leopard.|
|†Panthera crassidens||South Africa||No longer a valid species due to being described based on a mixture of leopard and cheetah fossils.|
|†Panthera gombaszoegensis||Europe||Panthera schreuderi and Panthera toscana are considered junior synonyms of P. gombaszoegensis. It is occasionally classified as subspecies of the P. onca.|
†Panthera leo fossilis
†Panthera leo sinhaleyus
|Sri Lanka||This lion subspecies is only known by two teeth.|
†Panthera onca augusta
|North America||May have lived in temperate forests across North America.|
†Panthera onca mesembrina
|South America||May have lived in grasslands in South America, unlike the modern jaguar.|
†Panthera pardus spelaea
|Europe||Closely related to Asiatic leopard subspecies, with at least one study suggesting closely related to the Persian leopard P. p. tulliana according to genetic work|
|†Panthera palaeosinensis||Northern China||It was initially thought to be an ancestral tiger species, but several scientists place it close to the base of the genus Panthera.|
|†Panthera shawi||Laetoli site in Tanzania||A leopard-like cat.|
|†Panthera spelaea||Much of Eurasia||Originally spelaea was classified as a subspecies of the extant lion P. leo. Results of recent genetic studies indicate that both belong to a distinct species, namely P. spelaea. Other genetic results indicate that the fossilis cave lion warrants status of a species.|
†Panthera tigris acutidens
|Much of Asia||Not closely related to modern tiger subspecies.|
†Panthera tigris soloensis
|Java, Indonesia||Not closely related to modern tiger subspecies.|
†Panthera tigris trinilensis
|Java, Indonesia||Not closely related to modern tiger subspecies.|
|†Panthera youngi||China, Japan|
|†Panthera zdanskyi||Gansu province of northwestern China||Possibly a close relative of the tiger.|
The African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is the leopard nominate subspecies native to many countries in Africa. It is widely distributed in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but the historical range has been fragmented in the course of habitat conversion. Leopards have been recorded in North Africa as well.Amur leopard
The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a leopard subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and northern China. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. In 2007, only 19–26 wild leopards were estimated to survive in southeastern Russia and northeastern China. It was considered as one of the rarest cats on Earth.As of 2015, fewer than 60 individuals were estimated to survive in Russia and China. Camera-trapping surveys conducted between 2014 and 2015 revealed 92 individuals in a 8,398 km2 (3,242 sq mi) large transboundary area along the Russian-Chinese border.Results of genetic research indicate that the Amur leopard is genetically close to leopards in northern China and Korea, suggesting that the leopard population in this region became fragmented in the early 20th century. The North-Chinese leopard was formerly recognised as a distinct subspecies P. p. japonensis, but was subsumed under the Amur leopard in 2017.Asiatic lion
The Asiatic lion is a Panthera leo leo population in India. Its range is restricted to the Gir National Park and environs in the Indian state of Gujarat. On the IUCN Red List it is listed under its former scientific name Panthera leo persica as Endangered because of its small size and area of occupancy.The Asiatic lion was first described in 1826 by the Austrian zoologist Johann N. Meyer who named it Felis leo persicus. Until the 19th century, it occurred in eastern Turkey, Iran, Mesopotamia, and from east of the Indus River to Bengal and Narmada River in Central India.
Since the turn of the 20th century, it is restricted to the Gir Forest National Park and surrounding areas.
This lion population has steadily increased since 2010. In May 2015, the 14th Asiatic Lion Census was conducted over an area of about 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi); the lion population was estimated at 523 individuals, comprising 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs. In August 2017, a similar census revealed 650 wild individuals.The lion is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard. It was also known as "Indian lion" and "Persian lion".Bengal tiger
The Bengal tiger is a Panthera tigris tigris population in the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008, and was estimated at comprising fewer than 2,500 individuals by 2011. It is threatened by poaching, loss and fragmentation of habitat. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within its range is considered large enough to support an effective population of more than 250 adult individuals.India's tiger population was estimated at 1,706–1,909 individuals in 2010. By 2014, the population had reputedly increased to an estimated 2,226 individuals. Around 440 tigers are estimated in Bangladesh, 163–253 tigers in Nepal and 103 tigers in Bhutan.The tiger is estimated to be present in the Indian subcontinent since the Late Pleistocene, for about 12,000 to 16,500 years.The Bengal tiger ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today. It is considered to belong to the world's charismatic megafauna.
It is the national animal of both India and Bangladesh. It is also known as the Royal Bengal tiger.Big cat
The term "big cat" is typically used to refer to any of the five living members of the genus Panthera, namely tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard.
Except the snow leopard, these species are able to roar.
A more liberal and expansive definition of the term includes species outside of Panthera including the cougar, clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard and cheetah, although these added species also do not roar.Despite enormous differences in size, various cat species are quite similar in both structure and behaviour, with the exception of the cheetah, which significantly stands out from the other big and small cats. All cats are carnivores and efficient apex predators. Their range includes the Americas, Africa, and Asia.Black panther
A black panther is the melanistic color variant of any big cat species. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards (Panthera pardus), and those in the Americas are jaguars (Panthera onca).Caspian tiger
The Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) was a tiger population which lived from eastern Turkey, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus around the Caspian Sea through Central Asia to northern Afghanistan and Xinjiang in western China. It inhabited sparse forests and riverine corridors in this region until the 1970s. This population was assessed as extinct in 2003.Felis virgata was the scientific name proposed in 1815 by Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger for this tiger population.
Results of phylogeographic analysis indicate that the Caspian and Siberian tiger populations shared a common continuous geographic distribution until the early 19th century that became fragmented due to human influence.Some Caspian tiger individuals were intermediate in size between Siberian and Bengal tigers.The Caspian tiger was also called Hyrcanian tiger, Turanian tiger, and Babre Mazandaran (Persian: ببرِ مازندران), depending on the region of its occurrence.Genus
A genus is (, pl. genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.
E.g. Panthera leo (lion) and Panthera onca (jaguar) are two species within the genus Panthera. Panthera is a genus within the family Felidae.The composition of a genus is determined by a taxonomist. The standards for genus classification are not strictly codified, so different authorities often produce different classifications for genera. There are some general practices used, however, including the idea that a newly defined genus should fulfill these three criteria to be descriptively useful:
monophyly – all descendants of an ancestral taxon are grouped together (i.e. phylogenetic analysis should clearly demonstrate both monophyly and validity as a separate lineage).
reasonable compactness – a genus should not be expanded needlessly; and
distinctness – with respect to evolutionarily relevant criteria, i.e. ecology, morphology, or biogeography; DNA sequences are a consequence rather than a condition of diverging evolutionary lineages except in cases where they directly inhibit gene flow (e.g. postzygotic barriers).Moreover, genera should be composed of phylogenetic units of the same kind as other (analogous) genera.Jaguar
The jaguar (Panthera onca) is a wild cat species and the only extant member of the genus Panthera native to the Americas. The jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico in North America, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina in South America. Though there are single cats now living within the Western United States, the species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List; and its numbers are declining. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat.
Overall, the jaguar is the largest native cat species of the New World and the third largest in the world. This spotted cat closely resembles the leopard, but is usually larger and sturdier. It ranges across a variety of forested and open terrains, but its preferred habitat is tropical and subtropical moist broad leaf forest, swamps and wooded regions. The jaguar enjoys swimming and is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain. As a keystone species it plays an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating prey populations.
While international trade in jaguars or their body parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range remains large. Given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including those of the Maya and Aztec.Leopard
The leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae. The leopard occurs in a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. The leopard is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in large parts of the global range. In Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and most likely in Morocco, leopard populations have already been extirpated.
Contemporary records suggest that the leopard occurs in only 25% of its historical global range.
Leopards are hunted illegally, and their body parts are smuggled in the wildlife trade for medicinal practices and decoration.Compared to other wild cats, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but generally has a smaller, lighter physique. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar, but the leopard's rosettes are generally smaller, more densely packed and without central spots. Both leopards and jaguars that are melanistic are known as black panthers. The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet, and strength (which it uses to move heavy carcasses into trees), as well as its ability to adapt to various habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas, and its ability to run at speeds of up to 58 kilometres per hour (36 mph).Fossil parts dating to the Late Pleistocene were excavated in Europe and Japan.Liger
The liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion (Panthera leo) and a female tiger (Panthera tigris). The liger has parents in the same genus but of different species. The liger is distinct from the similar hybrid tigon, and is the largest of all known extant felines. They enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike tigons.Lion
The lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the family Felidae; it is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. The lion is sexually dimorphic; males are larger than females with a typical weight range of 150 to 250 kg (330 to 550 lb) for males and 120 to 182 kg (265 to 400 lb) for females. Male lions have a prominent mane, which is the most recognisable feature of the species. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. The species is an apex and keystone predator, although they scavenge when opportunities occur. Some lions have been known to hunt humans, although the species typically does not.
Typically, the lion inhabits grasslands and savannas but is absent in dense forests. It is usually more diurnal than other big cats, but when persecuted it adapts to being active at night and at twilight. In the Pleistocene, the lion ranged throughout Eurasia, Africa and North America but today it has been reduced to fragmented populations in Sub-Saharan Africa and one critically endangered population in western India. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996 because populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes for concern.
One of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture, the lion has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoological gardens across the world since the late 18th century. Cultural depictions of lions were prominent in the Upper Paleolithic period; carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in France have been dated to 17,000 years ago, and depictions have occurred in virtually all ancient and medieval cultures that coincided with the lion's former and current ranges.List of national animals
This is a list of national animals. As of 2009, a total of 231 national animal symbols exist globally. Of the 192 countries in the world:
142 (74%) countries have designated at least one national animal symbol;
71 (37%) countries have more than one national animal symbol.Panthera hybrid
A Panthera hybrid is a crossbreed between any of the four species tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard in captivity.
Most hybrids would not be perpetuated in the wild as males are usually infertile. Mitochondrial genome research revealed that wild hybrids were also present in ancient times. The mitochondrial genomes of snow leopard and lion was more similar to each other than to other Panthera species, indicating that at some point in their history, the female progeny of male ancestors of modern snow leopards and female ancestors of modern lions interbred with male ancestors of modern snow leopards.Panthera leo melanochaita
Panthera leo melanochaita is a lion subspecies in Southern and East Africa. In this part of Africa, lion populations are regionally extinct in Lesotho, Djibouti and Eritrea, and threatened by loss of habitat and prey base, killing by local people in retaliation for loss of livestock, and in several countries also by trophy hunting. Since the turn of the 21st century, lion populations in intensively managed protected areas in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe have increased, but declined in East African range countries. In 2005, a Lion Conservation Strategy was developed for East and Southern Africa.The type specimen for P. l. melanochaita was a black-maned lion from the Cape of Good Hope, known as the Cape lion. Phylogeographic analysis of lion samples from Gabon and the Republic of the Congo indicate their close genetic relation to P. l. melanochaita samples from Namibia and Botswana.Panthera spelaea
Panthera spelaea, also known as the European cave lion, is an extinct Panthera species that evolved in Europe probably after the third Cromerian interglacial stage, less than 600,000 years ago. Phylogenetic analysis of fossil bone samples revealed that it was highly distinct and genetically isolated from the modern lion (Panthera leo) occurring in Africa and Asia. Analysis of morphological differences and mitochondrial data support the taxonomic recognition of Panthera spelaea as a distinct species that diverged from the lion about 1.9 million years ago.
The oldest known bone fragments were excavated in Yakutia and radiocarbon dated at least 62,400 years old. It became extinct about 13,000 years ago.Siberian tiger
The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a tiger population in the Far East, particularly the Russian Far East and Northeast China. This population inhabits mainly the Sikhote Alin mountain region in southwest Primorye Province in the Russian Far East. The Siberian tiger once ranged throughout Korea, north China, Russian Far East, and eastern Mongolia. In 2005, there were 331–393 adult and subadult Siberian tigers in this region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals. The population had been stable for more than a decade due to intensive conservation efforts, but partial surveys conducted after 2005 indicate that the Russian tiger population was declining. An initial census held in 2015 indicated that the Siberian tiger population had increased to 480–540 individuals in the Russian Far East, including 100 cubs. This was followed up by a more detailed census which revealed there was a total population of 562 wild Siberian tigers in Russia.Results of a phylogeographic study comparing mitochondrial DNA from Caspian tigers and living tiger subspecies indicate that the common ancestor of the Siberian and Caspian tigers colonized Central Asia from eastern China, via the Gansu−Silk Road corridor, and then subsequently traversed Siberia eastward to establish the Siberian tiger population in the Russian Far East. The Caspian and Siberian tiger populations were the northernmost in mainland Asia.The Siberian tiger was also called Amur tiger, Manchurian tiger, Korean tiger, and Ussurian tiger, depending on the region where individuals were observed.Snow leopard
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia), also known as the ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because the global population is estimated to number less than 10,000 mature individuals and decline about 10% in the next 23 years. It is threatened by poaching and habitat destruction following infrastructural developments.The snow leopard inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m (9,800 to 14,800 ft), ranging from eastern Afghanistan to Mongolia and western China. In the northern range countries, it also occurs at lower elevations.Taxonomically, the snow leopard was initially classified in the monotypic genus Uncia. Since 2008, it is considered a member of the genus Panthera based on results of genetic studies. Two subspecies were described based on morphological differences, but genetic differences between the two have not been confirmed. It is therefore regarded a monotypic species.Tiger
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest species among the Felidae and classified in the genus Panthera. It is most recognizable for its dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. It is an apex predator, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat, which support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring. Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years, before they become independent and leave their mother's home range to establish their own.
The tiger once ranged widely from Eastern Anatolia Region in the west to the Amur River basin, and in the south from the foothills of the Himalayas to Bali in the Sunda islands. Since the early 20th century, tiger populations have lost at least 93% of their historic range and have been extirpated in Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and in large areas of Southeast and South Asia and China. Today's tiger range is fragmented, stretching from Siberian temperate forests to subtropical and tropical forests on the Indian subcontinent and Sumatra. The tiger is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986. As of 2015, the global wild tiger population was estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 mature individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century, with most remaining populations occurring in small pockets isolated from each other. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. This, coupled with the fact that it lives in some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.
The tiger is among the most recognisable and popular of the world's charismatic megafauna. It featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore and continues to be depicted in modern films and literature, appearing on many flags, coats of arms and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and South Korea.
Extant Carnivora species