name = "Panthera"MSW3 Wozencraft | pages = 546-548]
fossil_range = Early Pliocene to Recent

image_width = 200px
image_caption = Top to bottom: Lion, Tiger, Jaguar, and Leopard
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Felidae
subfamilia = Pantherinae
genus = "Panthera"
genus_authority = Oken, 1816
type_species = "Felis pardus"
type_species_authority = Linnaeus, 1758

"Panthera" is a genus of the family Felidae (the 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. One meaning of the word "panther" is to designate cats of this subfamily. The word is often presumed to derive from Greek "pan-" ("all") and "ther" ("beast"), but this may be a folk etymology. Although it came into English through the classical languages, "panthera" is probably of East Asian origin, meaning "the yellowish animal," or "whitish-yellow". [cite web | url= | title="Panther" | work=Online Etymology Dictionary | publisher=Douglas Harper | accessdate=2007-11-12]

Only these four cat species have the anatomical changes enabling them to . The primary reason for this was 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. [cite book | last = Nowak | first = Ronald M. | title = Walker's Mammals of the World | publisher = Johns Hopkins University Press | date = 1999 | id = ISBN 0-8018-5789-9]


Like much of the Felidae family, "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 sometimes also regarded as an early member of the Puma group. "Panthera" has likely derived 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 "Felinae" (including all other living cat species) has been ranked between six and ten Macite journal | author = Johnson, W.E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W.J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E. & O'Brien, S.J. | year = 2006 | doi = 10.1126/science.1122277 | title = The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: A genetic assessment. | journal = Science | volume = 311 | pages = 73–77 | pmid = 16400146] . The fossil record points to the emergence of "Panthera" just 2 to 3.8 million years ago [Turner A (1987) New fossil carnivore remains from the Sterkfontein hominid site (Mammalia: Carnivora). Ann Transvall Mus 34:319–347] .

Morphological and genetic studies have suggested that the tiger was the first of the recent "Panthera" species to emerge from the lineagecite journal | author = Yu L & Zhang YP | year = 2005 | title = Phylogenetic studies of pantherine cats (Felidae) based on multiple genes, with novel application of nuclear beta-fibrinogen intron 7 to carnivores | journal = Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | volume = 35 | issue = 2 | url= | pages = 483–495 | doi = 10.1016/j.ympev.2005.01.017 ] , but this remains unresolved. The Snow Leopard was seen originally at the base of the "Panthera", but newer molecular studies suggest, that it is nestled within "Panthera", and may be even a sister species of the Leopard. Many thus place the Snow Leopard within the genus "Panthera" but there is currently no consensus whether Snow Leopard should retain its own genus, "Uncia"IUCN2006|assessors=Cat Specialist Group|year=2002|id=22732|title=Uncia uncia|downloaded=11 May 2006] [Felid Taxon Advisory Group: Alan H. Shoemaker (1996) [ Taxonomic and Legal Status of the Felidae] ] or be moved to "Panthera uncia". A prehistoric feline, probably closely related to the modern Jaguar, is "Panthera gombaszogensis", often called European Jaguar. This species appeared first around 1.6 million years ago in what is now Olivola in Italy.

The Clouded Leopard ("Neofelis nebulosa") is generally placed at the basis of the "Panthera" group, but is not included in the genus "Panthera" itself.cite journal | author = Yu L & Zhang YP | year = 2005 | title = Phylogenetic studies of pantherine cats (Felidae) based on multiple genes, with novel application of nuclear beta-fibrinogen intron 7 to carnivores | journal = Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | volume = 35 | issue = 2 | pages = 483–495 | doi = 10.1016/j.ympev.2005.01.017 ] cite journal | author = Johnson WE & Obrien SJ | year = 1997 | title = Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Felidae using 16S rRNA and NADH-5 mitochondrial genes | journal = Journal of Molecular Evolution | volume = 44 | pages = S98–S116 | doi = 10.1007/PL00000060 ] cite journal | author = Dianne N. Janczewski, William S. Modi, J. Claiborne Stephens, and Stephen J. O'Brien | year = 1996 | title = Molecular Evolution of Mitochondrial 12S RNA and Cytochrome b Sequences in the Pantherine Lineage of Felidae | journal = Molecular Biology and Evolution | volume = 12 | issue = 4 | pages = 690 | url = | accessdate = 2006-08-06]

pecies, 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 all the same Leopard subspecies, and 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 †)

*Genus "Panthera"
**"Panthera crassidens" (probably identical with another felid taxon)
**"Panthera gombaszoegensis" (European jaguar)
**"Panthera leo" (Lion)
***"Panthera leo atrox" - American Lion or North American cave lion
***"Panthera leo azandica" - North East Congo lion
***"Panthera leo bleyenberghi" - Katanga lion or Southwest African lion
***"Panthera leo europaea" - European lion
***"Panthera leo fossilis" - Early Middle Pleistocene European cave lion
***"Panthera leo hollisteri" - Congo lion
***"Panthera leo kamptzi"
***"Panthera leo krugeri" - South African lion or Southeast African lion
***"Panthera leo leo" - Barbary lion
***"Panthera leo melanochaita" - Cape lion
***"Panthera leo massaica" - Masai lion
***"Panthera leo melanochaita"
***"Panthera leo nyanzae"
***"Panthera leo persica" - Asiatic lion
***"Panthera leo sinhaleyus" - Sri Lanka lion or Ceylon lion.
***"Panthera leo spelaea" - Eurasian cave lion
***"Panthera leo senegalensis" - West African lion, or Senegal lion
***"Panthera leo vereshchagini" - East Siberian and Beringian cave lion
**"Panthera onca" (Jaguar)
***"Panthera onca arizonensis"
***"Panthera onca centralis"
***"Panthera onca goldmani"
***"Panthera onca hernandesii"
***"Panthera onca onca"
***"Panthera onca palustris"
***"Panthera onca paraguensis"
***"Panthera onca peruviana"
***"Panthera onca veracrucis"
***"Panthera onca mesembrina" - Pleistocene South American Jaguar
***"Panthera onca augusta" - Pleistocene North American Jaguar
**"Panthera palaeosinensis" (Pleistocene pantherine; Probably ancestral to the tiger)
**"Panthera pardoides" (a primitive pantherine)
**"Panthera pardus" (Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus delacouri" (Indo-Chinese Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus fusca" (Indian Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus japonensis" (North China Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus kotiya" (Sri Lanka Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus melas" (Java Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus nimr" (Arabian Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus orientalis" (Amur Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus pardus" (African Leopard)
***"Panthera pardus saxicolor" (Persian Leopard)
*** "Panthera pardus sickenbergi" (European leopard}
***"Panthera pardus tulliana" (Anatolian Leopard)
**"Panthera (Viretailurus) schaubi" (prehistoric felid)
**"Panthera schreuderi" (prehistoric felid) - probably junior synonym of European Jaguar cite journal | author = O'Regan, H & Turner, A | year = 2004 | title = Biostratigraphic & palaeoecological implications of new fossil felid material from the Plio-Pleistocene site of Tegelen, the Netherlands | journal = Palaeontology | volume = 47 | issue = 5 | url= | pages = 1181–1193 | doi = 10.1111/j.0031-0239.2004.00400.x ]
**"Panthera tigris" (Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris altaica" (Siberian Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris amoyensis" (South China Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris balica" (Balinese Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris corbetti" (Indochinese Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris jacksoni" (Malayan Tiger) [cite journal | author = Luo SJ, Kim JH, Johnson WE, Walt Jvd, Martenson J, et al. | year = 2004 | title = Phylogeography and Genetic Ancestry of Tigers ("Panthera tigris") | journal = PLoS Biol | volume = 2 | issue = 12 | pages = e442 | doi = 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020442]
***"Panthera tigris sondaica" (Javan Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris sumatrae" (Sumatran Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris tigris" (Bengal Tiger)
***"Panthera tigris virgata" (Caspian Tiger)
**"Panthera toscana" (Tuscany lion or Tuscany jaguar) - probably junior synonym of European Jaguar
**"Panthera youngi" (a prehistoric Chinese lion-like felid)


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

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