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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.

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.

Name

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". This might also be ultimately derived from Sanskrit word पाण्डर pāṇḍara which means ("pale").

Characteristics

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. 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 by a large fibro-elastic pad, is what enables all Panthera species apart from the Snow Leopard to roar.

Evolution

Panthera probably evolved in Asia, but the roots of the genus remain unclear. Genetic studies indicate that pantherine catsdiverged 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.

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 leoPanthera 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 American lions (P. atrox) are a sister lineage to Eurasian cave lions (P. l. spelaea), diverging 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.

Classification

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, 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. 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.

Species

Species Description Image
Lion Range Asia & Africa
Tiger Range Asia & Africa
Leopard Range Asia & Africa
Jaguar Range Asia & Africa
Snow Leopard Range Asia & Africa

Extinct Species & Subspecies

Species or Subspecies Description Image
European Jaguar Extinct
Panthera Blytheae Extinct
North Chinese Ice Age Panthera Extinct
Longdan Tiger Extinct
Panthera Youngi Extinct
Mexican Ice Age Balamoides Extinct
European Ice Age Leopard Extinct
Panthera Shawi Extinct
Panthera Tigris Acutidens Extinct
Panthera Tigris Soloensis Extinct
Trinil Tiger Extinct
South American Jaguar Extinct
Giant Jaguar Extinct
Panthera Crassidens Extinct
Sri Lankan Lion Extinct
American Cave Lion Extinct
Eurasian Cave Lion Extinct
Cape Lion Extinct
Middle Pleistocene European Cave Lion Extinct

Hybrids

First Gen

Species Description Image
Liger Hybrid Lion and Tigeress
Tigon Hybrid Tiger and Lioness
Leopon Hybrid Lioness and Leopard
Lipard Hybrid Leopardess and Lion
Liguar Hybrid Lion and Jaguaress
Jaglion Hybrid Jaguar and Lioness
Snow Lions Hybrid Snow Leopardess x Lion and Snow Leopard and Lion
Tiguar Hybrid Tiger and Jaguaress
Jagger Hybrid Jaguar and Tigeress
Tigard Hybrid Tiger and Leopardess
Leoger Hybrid Leopard and Tigeress
Snow Tigers Hybrid Snow Leopardess x Tiger and Snow Leopard and Tiger
Jagupard Hybrid Jaguar and Leopardess
Leguar Hybrid Leopard and Jaguaress

Second Gen

Subspecies Description Image
Liliger Hybrid Lion and Ligeress
Litigon Hybrid Lion and Tigoness
Tiliger Hybrid Tiger and Ligeress
Titigon Hybrid Tiger and Tigoness
Lijagupard Hybrid Lion and Jagupardess
Lileguar Hybrid Lion and Leguaress
Tijagupard Hybrid Tiger and Jagupardess
Tileguar Hybrid Tiger and Leguaress
Leoliger Hybrid Leopard and Ligress
Leotigon Hybrid Leopard and Tigoness
Jagliger Hybrid Jaguar and Ligress
Jagtigon Hybrid Jaguar and Tigoness
Leojagupard Hybrid Leopard and Jagupardess
Jagjagupard Hybrid Jaguar and Jagupardess
Leoleguar Hybrid Leopard and Leguaress
Jagleguar Hybrid Jaguar and Leguaress
Tijagger Hybrid Tiger and Jaggerness
Lijagger Hybrid Lion and Jaggerness
Leojagger Hybrid Leopard and Jaggerness
Jagujagger Hybrid Jaguar and Jaggerness
Lileoger Hybrid Lion and Leogerness
Tileoger Hybrid Tiger and Leogerness
Leoleoger Hybrid Leopard and Leogerness
Jaguleoger Hybrid Jaguar and Leogerness
Litigard Hybrid Lion and Tigardess
Titigard Hybrid Tiger and Tigardess
Leotigard Hybrid Leopard and Tigardess
Jagtigard Hybrid Jaguar and Tigardess
Lijaglion Hybrid Lion and Jaglioness
Tijaglion Hybrid Tiger and Jaglioness
Leojaglion Hybrid Leopard and Jaglioness
Jagujaglion Hybrid Jaguar and Jaglioness
Litiguar Hybrid Lion and Tiguaress
Titiguar Hybrid Tiger and Tiguaress
Leotiguar Hybrid Leopard and Tiguaress
Jagutiguar Hybrid Jaguar and Tiguaress
Lileopon Hybrid Lion and Leoponess
Tileopon Hybrid Tiger and Leoponess
Leoleopons Hybrid Leopard and Leoponess
Jaguleopons Hybrid Jaguar and Leoponess
Lilipard Hybrid Lion and Lipardness
Tilipard Hybrid Tiger and Lipardness
Leolipard Hybrid Leopard and Lipardness
Jaglipard Hybrid Jaguar and Lipardness
Liliguar Hybrid Lion and Liguaress
Tiliguar Hybrid Tiger and Liguaress
Leoliguar Hybrid Leopard and Liguaress
Jagliguar Hybrid Jaguar and Liguaress
Leopliguar Double Hybrid Leopon and Liguaress
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