Neha Patil (Editor)


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Scientific name

PantheraOken, 1816

Higher classification

Panthera Tiger Panthera tigris and White Tiger Panthera Tigris playing in the

tiger: 20 – 26 years, lion: 10 – 14 years, leopard: 12 – 17 years, jaguar: 12 – 15 years

Tiger: 49 – 65 km/h, Lion: 80 km/h, Leopard: 58 km/h

Tiger: 90 – 310 kg, Lion: 190 kg, Leopard: 31 kg, Jaguar: 56 – 96 kg, snow leopard: 32 kg

Tiger: 70 – 120 cm, Lion: 1.2 m, Leopard: 45 – 80 cm, Jaguar: 63 – 76 cm

Lower classifications
Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, snow leopard

Panthera is a genus within the Felidae family that was named and first described by the German naturalist 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 assessors in 2008.


Panthera pantheralogojpg

Only the tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar have 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.


Panthera Cats who roar Images of big cats from Genus Panthera Green

The word panther derives from classical Latin panthēra, itself from the ancient Greek Pánthēr (πάνθηρ). The Greek pan- (πάν), meaning "all", and thēr (θήρ), meaning "prey" bears the meaning of "predator of all animals". Use of the word for a beast originated in antiquity in the Orient, probably from India to Persia to Greece.


Panthera uploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonscc6Panthe

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 and this along with a specially adapted larynx that has proportionally larger vocal folds that are covered in a large fibro-elastic pad, is what enables all Panthera species except snow leopard to roar.


Panthera Panthera blytheae Oldest Big Cat Fossil Found in Tibet

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 Panthera genus reach only 2.0 to 3.8 million years back.

Panthera Jaguar Wikipedia

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.

The genus Neofelis is generally placed at the base of the Panthera group, but is not included in the genus itself.

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 11.3 million years ago Panthera separated from other felid species and then evolved into the several species of the genus. N. nebulosa appears to have diverged about 8.66 million years ago, P. tigris about 6.55 million years ago, P. uncia about 4.63 million years ago and P. pardus about 4.35 million years ago. Mitochondrial sequence data from fossils suggest that the American lion (P. l. atrox) is a sister lineage to Upper Pleistocene Eurasian cave lion (P. l. spelaea) that diverged about 0.34 million years ago.

The prehistoric cat Panthera onca gombaszogensis, often called 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. More recent genetic research indicates that the Western and Central African lion populations form a different clade and are more related to the Asian lion than to lions from Southern or eastern Africa. These populations have been largely ignored in previous studies.

Black panthers do not form a distinct species, but are melanistic specimens of the genus, most often encountered in the leopard and jaguar.


The cladogram below follows MazáK, Christiansen and Kitchener (2011).


The genus Panthera comprises:

  • Panthera tigris tiger
  • Panthera tigris amoyensis South China tiger
  • Panthera tigris sumatrae Sumatran tiger
  • Panthera tigris tigris Bengal tiger
  • Panthera tigris jacksoni Malayan tiger
  • Panthera tigris corbetti Indochinese tiger
  • Panthera tigris altaica Siberian tiger
  • Panthera tigris virgata Caspian tiger
  • Panthera tigris balica Bali tiger
  • Panthera tigris sondaica Javan tiger
  • Panthera tigris acutidens Wanhsien tiger †
  • Panthera tigris trinilensis Trinil tiger †
  • Panthera leo lion
  • Panthera leo persica Asiatic lion
  • Panthera leo leo African lion including:
  • P. l. senegalensis West African lion
  • P. l. nubica Masai lion
  • P. l. azandica Congo lion
  • P. l. bleyenberghi Southwest African lion or Katanga lion
  • P. l. krugeri Transvaal lion
  • P. l. barbaricus Barbary lion extinct in the wild
  • P. l. melanochaita Cape lion
  • Panthera leo sinhaleyus Sri Lanka lion or Ceylon lion †
  • Panthera leo spelaea Upper Pleistocene Eurasian cave lion †
  • Panthera leo fossilis Early Middle Pleistocene European cave lion †
  • Panthera leo atrox American lion or North American cave lion †
  • Panthera onca jaguar
  • Panthera onca hernandesii Mexican jaguar
  • Panthera onca onca Coastal jaguar
  • Panthera onca palustris Pantanal jaguar
  • Panthera onca gombaszoegensis European jaguar †
  • Panthera onca augusta Pleistocene North American jaguar †
  • Panthera onca mesembrina Pleistocene South American jaguar †
  • Panthera pardus leopard
  • Panthera pardus pardus African leopard
  • Panthera pardus orientalis Amur leopard
  • Panthera pardus melas Javan leopard
  • Panthera pardus nimr Arabian leopard
  • Panthera pardus ciscaucasica Persian leopard, including P. p. saxicolor, and P. p. tulliana Anatolian leopard
  • Panthera pardus fusca Indian leopard
  • Panthera pardus kotiya Sri Lanka leopard
  • Panthera pardus delacouri Indochinese leopard
  • Panthera pardus japonensis North-Chinese leopard
  • Panthera pardus begoueni
  • Panthera pardus sickenbergi
  • Panthera pardus antiqua
  • Panthera pardus spelaea European Ice Age leopard †
  • Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia Snow leopard
  • Panthera uncia baikalensis-romanii Trans-Baikal snow leopard
  • Panthera uncia uncia Northern snow leopard
  • Panthera uncia uncioides Southern snow leopard
  • Taxonomic placing is uncertain for the extinct Fossil Panthera species:

  • Panthera blytheae - prehistoric relative of snow leopard
  • Panthera combaszoe
  • Panthera crassidens – probably identical with another felid taxon
  • Panthera palaeosinensis – Pleistocene pantherine, probably ancestral to the tiger
  • Panthera schreuderi – prehistoric cat, probably junior synonym of European jaguar
  • Panthera shawi - a prehistoric lion with leopard-like spots.
  • Panthera toscana Tuscany lion or Tuscany jaguar – probably junior synonym of European jaguar
  • Panthera youngi – a prehistoric Chinese lion-like cat
  • Panthera zdanskyi - prehistoric relative of tiger
  • References

    Panthera Wikipedia

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