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Title: Panthera  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Lion, Masai lion, North-Chinese leopard, List of mammal genera
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Temporal range: Late Miocene - Recent, 5.95–0Ma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera
Oken, 1816
Type species
Felis pardus
Linnaeus, 1758

Panthera is a genus within the Felidae family that was named and first described by the German naturalist Oken in 1816.[2] The British taxonomist Pocock revised the classification of this genus in 1916 as comprising the species tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard on the basis of cranial features.[3] Results of genetic analysis indicate that the snow leopard also belongs to the Panthera, a classification that was accepted by IUCN assessors in 2008.[4][5]

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.[6]


The word panther derives from classical Latin panthēra, itself from the ancient Greek pánthēr (πάνθηρ).[7] The Greek pan- (πάν), meaning "all", and thēr (θήρ), meaning "prey" bears the meaning of "predator of all animals".[8]


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 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.[9]


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.[4] Fossil records point to the emergence of Panthera just 2.0 to 3.8 million years ago.[10]

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.[11] 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.[4][12][13][14] Since 2008, the IUCN Red List lists it as Panthera uncia using Uncia uncia as a synonym.[5]

The genus Neofelis is generally placed at the base of the Panthera group, but is not included in the genus itself.[4][12][13][14]

Results of a mitogenomic study suggest the phylogeny can be represented as Neofelis nebulosa (Panthera tigris (Panthera onca (Panthera pardus, (Panthera leo, Panthera uncia)))).[15] 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 American lions (P. atrox) are a sister lineage to Eurasian cave lions (P. l. spelaea), diverging about .[16]

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.[17]


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.[18][19][20] 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.[21][22] Subsequently, it was proposed to group all African leopard populations to P. p. pardus and retain eight subspecific names for Asian leopard populations.[23] Based on genetic research, it was suggested, to group all living sub-Saharan lion populations into P. l. leo.[24] More recent genetic research, however, indicates that the Western and Central African lions form a different clade of lions and are perhaps more related to Asian lions than to lions from southern or eastern Africa. These populations have been largely ignored in previous studies.[25][26] The black panther is not a distinct species, but is the common name for melanistic specimens of the genus, most often encountered in leopard and jaguar.[27][28]


The cladogram below follows Mazák, Christiansen and Kitchener (2011).[29]




Panthera uncia

Panthera palaeosinensis

Panthera onca

Panthera atrox

Panthera spelaea

Panthera leo

Panthera pardus

Panthera tigris

Panthera zdanskyi


The genus Panthera comprises:[1]

Taxonomic placing is uncertain for the extinct fossil Panthera species:

See also


  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 546–548.  
  2. ^ Oken, L. (1816). , 2. AbtheilungLehrbuch der Zoologie. August Schmid & Comp., Jena.
  3. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1916). and its Allies F. uncia The Classification and Generic Nomenclature of. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History: zoology, botany, and geology. Series 8, Volume XVIII: 314–316.
  4. ^ a b c d e Johnson, W. E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W. J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E. & O'Brien, S. J. (2006). "The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: A genetic assessment.".  
  5. ^ a b Jackson, R., Mallon, D., McCarthy, T., Chundaway, R. A., Habib, B. (2008). "Panthera uncia".  
  6. ^ Nowak, R. M. (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World.  
  7. ^ Liddell, H. G. and R. Scott (1940). "πάνθηρ". A Greek-English Lexicon, revised and augmented. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  8. ^ OUP (2002). "Panther".  
  9. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1939). . Mammalia. – Volume 1The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Taylor and Francis, London.
  10. ^ Turner, A. (1987). "New fossil carnivore remains from the Sterkfontein hominid site (Mammalia: Carnivora)". Annals of the Transvaal Museum 34 (15): 319–347. 
  11. ^ Davis, B. W.; Li, G.., Murphy, W.J. (Jul 2010). "Supermatrix and species tree methods resolve phylogenetic relationships within the big cats, Panthera (Carnivora: Felidae)". Molecular Phylogenetic Evolution 56 (1): 64–76.  
  12. ^ a b Yu, L. Zhang, Y. P. (2005). "Phylogenetic studies of pantherine cats (Felidae) based on multiple genes, with novel application of nuclear beta-fibrinogen intron 7 to carnivores". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35 (2): 483–495.  
  13. ^ a b Janczewski, D. N., Modi, W. S., Stephens, J. C., O'Brien, S. J. (1996). "Molecular Evolution of Mitochondrial 12S RNA and Cytochrome b Sequences in the Pantherine Lineage of Felidae". Molecular Biology and Evolution 12 (4): 690–707.  
  14. ^ a b Johnson, W. E., O'Brien, S. J. (1997). "Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Felidae using 16S rRNA and NADH-5 mitochondrial genes". Journal of Molecular Evolution 44: S98–S116.  
  15. ^ Wei L, Wu X, Zhu L, Jiang Z (2010). "Mitogenomic analysis of the genus Panthera". Science China Life Sciences 54 (10): 917–930.  
  16. ^ Barnett, R.;  
  17. ^ Hemmer, H.; Kahlke, R. D.; Vekua, A. K. (2001). "The Jaguar – Panthera onca gombaszoegensis (Kretzoi, 1938) (Carnivora: Felidae) in the late lower pleistocene of Akhalkalaki (south Georgia; Transcaucasia) and its evolutionary and ecological significance". Geobios 34 (4): 475–486.  
  18. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1930). "The panthers and ounces of Asia". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 34 (1): 65–82. 
  19. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1932). "The leopards of Africa". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1932 (2): 543–541. 
  20. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1939). "The races of jaguar (Panthera onca)". Novitates Zoologicae 41: 406–422. 
  21. ^ O’Brien, S. J., Martenson, J. S., Packer, C., Herbst, L., de Vos, V., Joslin, P., Ott-Joslin, J., Wildt, D. E. and Bush, M. (1987). "Biochemical genetic variation in geographic isolates of African and Asiatic lions". National Geographic Research 3 (1): 114–124. 
  22. ^ Miththapala, S.; Seidensticker, J.; O'Brien, S. J. (1996). "Phylogeographic subspecies recognition in leopards (Panthera pardus): Molecular genetic variation". Conservation Biology 10: 1115–1132.  
  23. ^ Uphyrkina, O.; Johnson, W. E.; Quigley, H. B.; Miquelle, D. G.; Marker, L.; Bush, M. E.; O'Brien, S. J. (2001). "Phylogenetics, genome diversity and origin of modern leopard, Panthera pardus". Molecular Ecology 10 (11): 2617–2633.  
  24. ^ Dubach, J.; Patterson, B. D.; Briggs, M. B.; Venzke, K.; Flamand, J.; Stander, P.; Scheepers, L.; Kays, R. W. (2005). "Molecular genetic variation across the southern and eastern geographic ranges of the African lion, Panthera leo". Conservation Genetics 6 (1): 15–24.  
  25. ^ Laura Bertola, Hans de Iongh, Klaas Vrieling (2011). .Researchers confirm West and Central African lion is different from other lions University of Leiden. Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML). Faculty of Science. Last Modified: 01-04-2011.
  26. ^ Bertola, L. D.; Van Hooft, W. F.; Vrieling, K.; Uit De Weerd, D. R.; York, D. S.; Bauer, H.; Prins, H. H. T.; Funston, P. J.; Udo De Haes, H. A.; Leirs, H.; Van Haeringen, W. A.; Sogbohossou, E.; Tumenta, P. N.; De Iongh, H. H. (2011). "Genetic diversity, evolutionary history and implications for conservation of the lion (Panthera leo) in West and Central Africa".  
  27. ^ Robinson, R. (1970). "Inheritance of black form of the leopard Panthera pardus". Genetica 41 (1): 190–197.  
  28. ^ Eizirik, E., Yuhki, N., Johnson, W. E., Menotti-Raymond, M., Hannah, S. S., O'Brien, S. J. (2003). "Molecular Genetics and Evolution of Melanism in the Cat Family". Current Biology 13 (5): 448–453.  
  29. ^ Mazák, Ji H.; Christiansen, Per; Kitchener, Andrew C. (2011). "Oldest Known Pantherine Skull and Evolution of the Tiger". PLoS ONE 6 (10): e25483.  
  30. ^ Luo, S.J., Kim, J.H., Johnson, W.E., Walt Jvd, Martenson, J., et al. (2004). "Phylogeography and Genetic Ancestry of Tigers (Panthera tigris)". PLoS Biol 2 (12): e442.  
  31. ^ Jackson, P., Nowell, K. (2008). "Panthera tigris ssp. virgata".  
  32. ^ Jackson, P. Nowell, K. (2008). "Panthera tigris ssp. balica".  
  33. ^ Jackson, P., Nowell, K. (2008). "Panthera tigris ssp. sondaica".  
  34. ^ Hooijer, D. A. (1947). Pleistocene remains of Panthera tigris (Linnaeus) subspecies from Wanhsien, Szechwan, China, compared with fossil and recent tigers from other localities. American Museum Novitates no. 1346.
  35. ^ Brongersma, L. D. (1935). "Notes on some recent and fossil cats, chiefly from the Malay Archipelago". Zoologische Mededelingen 18: 1–89.
  36. ^ a b Barnett, R., Yamaguchi, N., Barnes, I., Cooper, A. (2006). : Implications for its ex situ conservation"Panthera leo"Lost populations and preserving genetic diversity in the lion . Conservation Genetics 7 (4): 507–514.  
  37. ^ Manamendra-Arachchi, K., Pethiyagoda, R., Dissanayake, R., Meegaskumbura, M. (2005). A second extinct big cat from the late Quaternary of Sri Lanka. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 12: 423–434.
  38. ^ Tchernov, E., Tsoukala, E. (1997). Middle Pleistocene (early Toringian) carnivore remains from northern Israel. Quaternary Research 48:122–136.
  39. ^ a b Harington, C. R. (1996). Pleistocene mammals of the Yukon Territory. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Alberta, Edmonton.
  40. ^ Khorozyan, I. . (2008). "Panthera pardus ssp. saxicolor".  
  41. ^ O'Regan, H., Turner, A (2004). "Biostratigraphic and palaeoecological implications of new fossil felid material from the Plio-Pleistocene site of Tegelen, the Netherlands". Palaeontology 47 (5): 1181–1193.  

Further reading

  • A. Turner: The big cats and their fossil relatives. Columbia University Press, 1997.ISBN 0-231-10229-1
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