Temporal range: 25–Recent Ma Burdigalian to Subatlantic.
Top to bottom: tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera
Oken, 1816
Type species
Felis pardus
Linnaeus, 1758
File:Panthera range.png
Panthera range

Panthera is a genus of the family Felidae (cats), which contains four well-known living species: the tiger, the lion, the jaguar, and the leopard. The genus comprises about half of the Pantherinae subfamily, the big cats. The word panther, while technically referring to all members of the genus, is commonly used to specifically designate the black panther, a melanistic jaguar or leopard, and the Florida panther, a subspecies of cougar (Puma concolor coryi).

Only the four Panthera cat species 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 that the ability to roar is due to other morphological features, especially of the larynx. The snow leopard, Uncia uncia, which is sometimes included within Panthera, does not roar. Although it has an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone, it lacks the special morphology of the larynx.[2]

However, due to more recent genetic studies,[3][4] the snow leopard is now becoming more generally considered as Panthera uncia and is presently classified as such by IUCN.[3]


According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the origin of the word is unknown. A folk etymology derives the word from the Greek πάν pan- ("all") and thēr ("beast of prey") because they can hunt and kill almost everything. It has also been proposed that it comes ultimately into Greek from a Sanskrit word meaning "the yellowish animal" or "whitish-yellow".[5] The Greek word πάνθηρ, pánthēr, referred to all spotted Felidae generically.


Like much of the family Felidae, Panthera has been subject to much debate and taxonomic revision. At the base of the genus is probably the extinct felid Viretailurus schaubi, which is also regarded as an early member of the genus Puma.[6] Panthera likely evolved in Asia, but the definite roots of the genus remain unclear. The divergence of the pantherine cats (including the living genera Panthera, Uncia, and Neofelis) from the subfamily Felinae (including all other living cat species) has been ranked between six and ten million years ago.[7] The fossil record points to the emergence of Panthera just 2 to 3.8 million years ago.[8]

The snow leopard was seen originally at the base of the Panthera, but newer molecular studies suggest that it is nestled within Panthera and is a sister species of the tiger.[9] Thus, many place the snow leopard within the genus Panthera,[7][9][10][11] but there is currently no consensus as to whether the snow leopard should retain its own genus, Uncia[12] or be moved to Panthera uncia.[7][10][11][13] Since 2008, the IUCN Red List has listed it as Panthera uncia, with Uncia uncia identified as a synonym.[14] A prehistoric feline, probably closely related to the modern jaguar, is Panthera gombaszogensis, often called European jaguar. The earliest evidence of this species, obtained at what is now Olivola in Italy, dates from 1.6 million years ago.

The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), which was divided in 2007 to distinguish the Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), is generally placed at the basis of the Panthera group but is not included in the genus Panthera itself.[7][10][11][13]

A study based on mitochondrial genomes suggests that the phylogeny can be represented as Neofelis nebulosa (Panthera tigris (Panthera onca (Panthera pardus, (Panthera leo, Panthera uncia)))).[15] About Template:Ma/1 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 Template:Ma/1 million years ago, P. tigris about Template:Ma/1 million years ago, P. uncia about Template:Ma/1 million years ago and P. pardus about Template:Ma/1 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 Template:Ma/1 million years ago.[16]

Species, subspecies, and populations

There have been many subspecies of all four Panthera species suggested; however, many of the leopard and lion subspecies are questionable. Recently it has been proposed that all sub-Saharan populations of leopards are of the same leopard subspecies and that all sub-Saharan populations of lions likewise belong to the same lion subspecies, as they do not have sufficient genetic distinction between them. Some prehistoric lion subspecies have been described from historical evidence and fossils. They may have been separate species.

The "black panther" is not a distinct species but is just the common name for black (melanistic) specimens of the genus, most often encountered in jaguar and leopard species.


(Extinct species and subspecies are indicated with the symbol †)

See also



  1. ^ a b Template:MSW3 Wozencraft
  2. ^ Nowak, Ronald M. (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9. 
  3. ^ a b Panthera uncia (Ounce, Snow Leopard). Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
  4. ^ Contents Cat News 48 – Spring 2008. Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
  5. ^ "Panther". Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  6. ^ "Pumas of South Africa, cheetahs of France, jaguars of England", Tetrapod Zoology, referring to Hemmer et al. 2004
  7. ^ a b c d 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.". Science. 311 (5757): 73–77. PMID 16400146. doi:10.1126/science.1122277. 
  8. ^ Turner A (1987) New fossil carnivore remains from the Sterkfontein hominid site (Mammalia: Carnivora). Ann Transvall Mus 34:319–347
  9. ^ a b Davis, B.W.; Li G., Murphy W.J (2010 Jul). "Supermatrix and species tree methods resolve phylogenetic relationships within the big cats, Panthera (Carnivora: Felidae)". Molecular Phylogenetic Evolution (56): 64–76. PMID 20138224. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.01.036.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b c Yu L & Zhang YP (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. PMID 15804417. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.01.017. 
  11. ^ a b c Dianne N. Janczewski, William S. Modi, J. Claiborne Stephens, and Stephen J. O'Brien (1 July 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. PMID 7544865. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  12. ^ Felid Taxon Advisory Group: Alan H. Shoemaker (1996) Taxonomic and Legal Status of the Felidae
  13. ^ a b Johnson WE & Obrien SJ (1997). "Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Felidae using 16S rRNA and NADH-5 mitochondrial genes". Journal of Molecular Evolution. 44: S98–S116. PMID 9071018. doi:10.1007/PL00000060. 
  14. ^ Template:IUCN2011.1
  15. ^ Wei L, Wu X, Zhu L, Jiang Z (October 2011). "Mitogenomic analysis of the genus Panthera". Sci China Life Sci. 54 (10): 917–930. PMID 22038004. doi:10.1007/s11427-011-4219-1.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  16. ^ Barnett, Ross; Shapiro, Beth; Barnes, Ian; Yo, Simon Y.W.; Burger, Joachim; Yamaguchi, Nobuyuki; Higham, Thomas F.G.; Wheeler, H.Todd; et. al. (2009). "Phylogeography of lions (Panthera leo ssp.) reveals three distinct taxa and a late Pleistocene reduction in genetic diversity" (PDF). Molecular Ecology. 18 (8): 1668–1677. PMID 19302360. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04134.x. Retrieved 2011-11-23.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  17. ^ Hemmer, H.; Kahlike, R.-D.; Vekua, A. K. (2004). "The Old World puma Puma pardoides (Owen, 1846) (Carnivora: Felidae) in the Lower Villafranchian (Upper Pliocene) of Kvabebi (East Georgia, Transcaucasia) and its evolutionary and biogeographical significance". Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie, Abhandlungen. 233: 197–233. 
  18. ^ O'Regan, H & Turner, A (2004). "Biostratigraphic & palaeoecological implications of new fossil felid material from the Plio-Pleistocene site of Tegelen, the Netherlands". Palaeontology. 47 (5): 1181–1193. doi:10.1111/j.0031-0239.2004.00400.x. 
  19. ^ Luo SJ, Kim JH, Johnson WE, Walt Jvd, Martenson J; et al. (2004). "Phylogeography and Genetic Ancestry of Tigers (Panthera tigris)". PLoS Biol. 2 (12): e442. PMC 534810Freely accessible. PMID 15583716. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020442. 
  • A. Turner: The big cats and their fossil relatives. Columbia University Press, 1997.ISBN 0-231-10229-1

Hartmann zebra hobatere S This article is part of Project Mammal Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
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