Lions Panthera leo, photographed by Eyal Bartov.

Belongs within: Felidae.

The genus Panthera contains the big cats: tigers, leopards, lions and jaguars. The genus is characterised by the replacement of the hyoid bone with cartilage, allowing greater vibration and the ability to roar, though jaguars Panthera onca and snow leopards P. uncia do not appear to do so (Kerby 1984). The lion Panthera leo is unusual among living cats in its social behaviour and pronounced sexual dimorphism, males usually having large manes over the head and often shoulders.

<==Panthera Oken 1816 C57
    |  i. s.: P. gombaszoegensis ME05
    |         P. palaeosinensis DW04
    |         P. schaubi ME05
    |--+--P. tigris JE06
    |  |    |--P. t. tigris S84
    |  |    |--P. t. altaica S84
    |  |    |--P. t. amoyensis S84
    |  |    |--P. t. balica S84
    |  |    |--P. t. corbetti S84
    |  |    |--P. t. sondaica S84
    |  |    |--P. t. sumatrae S84
    |  |    `--P. t. virgata S84
    |  `--P. uncia (Schreber 1776) JE06, K92 [=Uncia uncia YC04]
    `--+--P. (Panthera) S78
       |    |--P. (P.) crassidens S78
       |    `--P. (P.) pardus (Linnaeus 1758) S78, JE06, G91
       |         |--P. p. pardus B84
       |         |--P. p. adersi B84
       |         |--P. p. jarvis B84
       |         |--P. p. nimr B84
       |         |--P. p. orientalis B84
       |         |--P. p. panthera B84
       |         `--P. p. tulliana B84
       `--+--+--P. atrox FS15 [=P. leo atrox D07]
          |  `--P. (Leo Brehm 1829) S78, C57
          |       `--P. (L.) leo (Linnaeus 1758) S78, JE06, F08 [=Felis leo G91]
          |            |--P. l. leo YC04
          |            |--P. l. bleyenberghi O84
          |            |--P. l. fossilis YC04
          |            |--P. l. krugeri O84
          |            |--P. l. melanochaitus (Hamilton Smith 1842) [=Leo melanochaitus] G91
          |            |--P. l. massaieus O84
          |            |--P. l. persica (von Meyer 1826) G91
          |            |--P. l. senegalensis (von Meyer 1826) G91
          |            |--P. l. shawi YC04
          |            `--P. l. spelaea YC04
          `--P. (Jaguarius Severtzow 1858) [incl. Pardotigris Kretzoi 1929, Pardus Fitzinger 1868] C57
               `--P. (*J.) onca (Linné 1758) JE06, C57 (see below for synonymy)
                    |--P. o. onca (see below for synonymy) C57
                    |--P. o. arizonensis K84
                    |--P. o. centralis (Mearns 1901) [=Felis centralis, Leo (Jaguarius) onca centralis] C57
                    |--P. o. goldmani K84
                    |--P. o. harnandes K84 [=Felis onca hernandesii MB86]
                    |--P. o. palustris (Ameghino 1889) (see below for synonymy) C57
                    |--P. o. peruviana (Blainville 1843) (see below for synonymy) C57
                    `--P. o. veracrucensis K84

Inorganic: Panthera tigris protominilorientalis Okamura 1987 O87
           Panthera uncia protomilorientalis Okamura 1987 O87

Panthera (*Jaguarius) onca (Linné 1758) JE06, C57 [=Felis onca C57, F. onssa C57, F. onza C57, Leo (Jaguarius) onca C57, Leopardus onca C57, Leop. onza C57]

Panthera (*Jaguarius) onca onca (Linné 1758) [incl. Felis onca coxi Nelson & Goldman 1933, F. jaguapara Liais 1872, F. jaguar Link 1795, F. jaguarete Liais 1872, F. jaguatyrica Liais 1872, F. onca madeirae Nelson & Goldman 1933, F. onca major Fischer 1830, F. onca var. mexiania Hagmann 1908, F. onca mexianae, F. onca minor Fischer 1830, F. onca nigra Erxleben 1777] C57

Panthera (Jaguarius) onca palustris (Ameghino 1889) [=Felis palustris, Leo (Jaguarius) onca palustris; incl. F. onca antiqua Ameghino 1889 non F. antiqua Cuvier 1825, F. onca boliviensis Nelson & Goldman 1933, F. onca fossilis Ameghino 1889, F. onca milleri Nelson & Goldman 1933m F. notialis Hollister 1914, F. onca paraguensis Hollister 1914, Panthera paraguensis, F. onca paulensis Nelson & Goldman 1933, F. proplatensis Ameghino 1904, F. ramsayi Miller 1930] C57

Panthera (Jaguarius) onca peruviana (Blainville 1843) [=Felis onca peruviana, Leo (Jaguarius) onca peruvianus; incl. F. onca ucayalae Nelson & Goldman 1933] C57

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B84] Bertram, B. C. R. 1984. Leopard. In: Macdonald, D. (ed.) All the World’s Animals: Carnivores pp. 36–39. Torstar Books Inc.: New York.

[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.

[F08] Fennessy, J. 2008. An overview of giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis taxonomy, distribution and conservation status, with a Namibian comparative and focus on the Kunene region. Journal Namibia Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft 56: 65–80.

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

[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.

[MB86] Matson, J. O., & R. H. Baker. 1986. Mammals of Zacatecas. Special Publications, Museum of Texas Tech University 24: 1–88.

[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.

[O84] Orsdol, K. G. van. 1984. Lion. In: Macdonald, D. (ed.) All the World’s Animals: Carnivores pp. 20–25. Torstar Books Inc.: New York.

[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).

[S84] Sunquist, M. 1984. Tiger. In: Macdonald, D. (ed.) All the World’s Animals: Carnivores pp. 28–31. Torstar Books Inc.: New York.

[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: 9 August 2018.

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