Reconstruction of Megantereon cultridens, copyright Mauricio Antón.

Belongs within: Aeluroidea.
Contains: Panthera, Leopardus, Lynx, Puma, Felis.

The Felidae, cats, are a family of hypercarnivorous carnivorans native to all continents except Australia and Antarctica. Most cats are relatively solitary, with some notable exceptions (such as the lion Panthera leo). Living cats are all included in the subfamily Felinae; the subfamily Machairodontinae includes the extinct sabre-toothed cats. The Felinae are generally divided between the 'big cats' and 'small cats'; the former are all classified in the genus Panthera except the clouded leopards Neofelis, heavily built, arboreal cats found in south-east Asia. The 'small' cats, mostly classified in the past into a single genus Felis, are now usually divided between several genera. Pardofelis species are found in forests of south-east Asia; the marbled cat P. marmorata is arboreal in habits, finding most of its prey in the forest canopy. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus is a large, lanky, highly cursorial cat found historically over much of Africa and southern Asia, though its range has become greatly contracted outside southern African and it is nearly extinct in Asia.

Synapomorphies (from Flynn et al. 1988): Cheek teeth reduced to P3-2/2, M1/1; small chisel-like incisors arranged in straight transverse line; crushing function of molars entirely lost, M1 reduced to small transverse bar, M1 lacking talonid and metaconid; skull with short rostrum and facial area and short inflated braincase; orbits large, vision stereoscopic; tongue covered with numerous posteriorly-directed horny papillae.

    |--Machairodontidae S78
    |    |--Smilodon Plieninger 1846 M84, D07
    |    |    |--S. bonaerensis O05
    |    |    |--S. californicus D07
    |    |    |--S. fatalis YC04
    |    |    |--S. floridus D07
    |    |    |--S. gracilis D07
    |    |    `--S. populator D07
    |    |--Homotherium Fabrini 1890 S78, D07
    |    |    |--H. crenatidens ME05
    |    |    |--H. ethiopicum S78
    |    |    |--H. latidens ME05
    |    |    |--H. problematicus (Colling 1972) [=Megantereon problematicus] S78
    |    |    `--H. serum FS15
    |    |--Machairodus Kaup 1833 D07 [incl. Epimachairodus S78]
    |    |    |--M. africanus D07
    |    |    |--M. aphanistus Kaup 1832 MPN04
    |    |    |--M. coloradensis D07
    |    |    |--M. giganteus D07
    |    |    |--M. oradensis D07
    |    |    |--M. palanderi DW04
    |    |    `--M. transvaalensis S78
    |    `--Megantereon S78
    |         |--M. cultridens D07
    |         |--M. eurynodon S78
    |         |--M. falconeri D07
    |         |--M. gracile S78
    |         |--M. inexpectatus D07
    |         |--M. nihowanense DW04
    |         |--M. praecox S78
    |         `--M. whitei S78
    `--Felinae JE06
         |--+--Panthera JE06
         |  `--Neofelis JE06
         |       |--N. diardi FS15
         |       `--N. nebulosa JE06
         |            |--N. n. nebulosa K84
         |            `--N. n. brachyurus K84
         `--+--Pardofelis JE06
            |    |--P. marmorata JE06
            |    `--+--P. badia JE06
            |       `--P. temminckii JE06
            `--+--+--Caracal JE06
               |  |    |--+--C. aurata JE06
               |  |    |  `--C. caracal Schreber 1776 JE06, G91
               |  |    `--C. serval JE06
               |  `--Leptailurus FS15
               |       |--L. brachyurus [=Felis (Leptailurus) brachyura] S78
               |       `--L. serval (Schreber 1776) FS15, G91 [=Felis (Leptailurus) serval S78; incl. F. servalina BP87]
               |            |--L. s. serval USDI77
               |            `--‘Felis’ s. constantina USDI77
               `--+--Leopardus JE06
                  `--+--Lynx JE06
                     `--+--+--Puma JE06
                        |  `--Acinonyx Brookes 1828 JE06, G91
                        |       |--A. jubatus (Schreber 1776) K92 [incl. Felis guttata Hermann 1804 G91, A. rex F84]
                        |       |    |--A. j. jubatus F84
                        |       |    `--A. j. venaticus F84
                        |       `--A. pardinensis ME05
                        `--+--Felis JE06
                           `--+--Otocolobus manul JE06
                              `--Prionailurus JE06
                                   |--P. rubiginosus JE06
                                   `--+--P. planiceps JE06
                                      `--+--P. bengalensis JE06
                                         `--P. viverrinus JE06

Felidae incertae sedis:
  Mayailurus iriomotensis Imaizumi 1967 M76
  Dinofelis Zdasky 1924 YC04, D07
    |--D. abeli S78
    |--D. barlowi S78
    |--D. cristata D07
    |--D. diastemata [=*Therailurus diastemata] S78
    |--D. paleoonco D07
    |--D. piveteaui S78
    `--D. therailurus D07
  Metailurus minor DW04
  Pseudaelurus MPN04
    |--P. guangheensis DW04
    `--P. quadridentatus (Blainville 1843) MPN04
  Nimravides galiani V91
  Dendrailurus Severtzow 1858 (n. d.) C57
    `--‘Felis’ lineata Swainson 1838 [incl. F. strigilata Wagner 1841] C57
  Catopuma IT07
    |--C. badia IT07
    `--C. temminckii IT07
  Proailurus lemanensis MPN04
  Paramachaerodus MPN04
    |--*P. orientlais MPN04
    `--P. ogygius MPN04

Inorganic: Acinonyx jubatus protominilorientalus Okamura 1987 O87
           Felis serval minilorientalis Okamura 1987 O87

*Type species of generic name indicated


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[C57] Cabrera, A. 1957. Catalogo de los mamiferos de America del Sur. I (Metatheria—Unguiculata—Carnivora). Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia” e Instituto Nacional de Investigacion de Las Ciencias Naturales, Ciencias Zoológicas 4 (1): 1–307.

[DW04] Deng T., Wang X., Ni X. & Liu L. 2004. Sequence of the Cenozoic mammalian faunas of the Linxia Basin in Gansu, China. Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition) 78 (1): 8–14.

[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[FS15] Faurby, S., & J.-C. Svenning. 2015. A species-level phylogeny of all extant and late Quaternary extinct mammals using a novel heuristic-hierarchical Bayesian approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 14–26.

[F84] Frame, G. W. 1984. Cheetah. In: Macdonald, D. (ed.) All the World’s Animals: Carnivores pp. 32–33. Torstar Books Inc.: New York.

[G91] Groves, C. P. 1991. A Theory of Human and Primate Evolution, revised ed. Clarendon Press: Oxford.

[IT07] Isaac, N. J. B., S. T. Turvey, B. Collen, C. Waterman & J. E. M. Baillie. 2007. Mammals on the EDGE: conservation priorities based on threat and phylogeny. PloS One 2 (3): e296.

[JE06] Johnson, W. E., E. Eizirik, J. Pecon-Slattery, W. J. Murphy, A. Antunes, E. Teeling & S. J. O’Brien. 2006. The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: a genetic assessment. Science 311: 73–77.

[K84] Kerby, G. 1984. Other big cats. In: Macdonald, D. (ed.) All the World’s Animals: Carnivores pp. 40–41. Torstar Books Inc.: New York.

[K92] Klompen, J. S. H. 1992. Phylogenetic relationships in the mite family Sarcoptidae (Acari: Astigmata). Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 180: i–vi, 1–154.

[M84] Macdonald, D. W. 1984. Carnivores. In: Macdonald, D. (ed.) All the World’s Animals: Carnivores pp. 10–17. Torstar Books Inc.: New York.

[M76] Masui, M. 1976. Nihon no Doobutsu. Kogakukan: Tokyo.

[MPN04] Morlo, M., S. Peigne & D. Nagel. 2004. A new species of Prosansanosmilus: implications for the systematic relationships of the family Barbourofelidae new rank (Carnivora, Mammalia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 140: 43–61.

[ME05] Moullé, P.-E., A. Echassoux, F. Lacombat, E. Desclaux & S. Bailon. 2005. L’environnement animal des premiers habitants de l’Europe méditerranéenne: les grands mammifères contemporains de l’homme du Vallonnet, données taxonomiques et biostratigraphiques pour la deuxième moitie du Pléistocène inférieur. BAR International Series 1364: 105–113.

[O87] Okamura, C. 1987. New facts: Homo and all Vertebrata were born simultaneously in the former Paleozoic in Japan. Original Report of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory 15: 347–573.

[O05] Outes, F. F. 1905. Sobre un instrumento paleolítico de Luján (Provincia de Buenos Aires). Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires, serie 3, 6: 169–173.

[S78] Savage, R. J. G. 1978. Carnivora. In: Maglio, V. J., & H. B. S. Cooke (eds) Evolution of African Mammals pp. 249–267. Harvard University Press: Cambridge (Massachusetts).

[USDI77] USDI (United States Department of the Interior). 1977. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants—republication of list of species. Federal Register 42: 36420–36431.

[V91] Valkenburgh, B. van. 1991. Iterative evolution of hypercarnivory in canids (Mammalia: Carnivora): evolutionary interactions among sympatric predators. Paleobiology 17 (4): 340–362.

[YC04] Yamaguchi, N., A. Cooper, L. Werdelin & D. W. Macdonald. 2004. Evolution of the mane and group-living in the lion (Panthera leo): a review. Journal of Zoology 263: 329–342.

Last updated: 10 August 2018.

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