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- Extinct Big Cats -
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Cape Lion

Scientific Name: Panthera leo melanochaitus

Range: -formerly- Cape of Africa, Cape Province, South Africa

Average Weight:

Female: 65-80 kg (325-425 pounds)

Male: 90-100kg (425-500 pounds)


Female: 2.13m - 2.74m (7'-9')

Male: 2.74m - 3.35m (9'-11')

Territory Size: Southern Cape of Africa. Primarily Cape Province, South Africa. Lions occur naturally today in the wild only throughout the plains of sub-Saharan Africa. Conservation Status: The Cape Lion has been extinct since the 1860's.

Cape Lions ranged along the Cape of Africa on the southern tip of the continent. The Cape Lion was not the only subspecies living in South Africa, and its exact range is unclear. Its stronghold was Cape Province and around Capetown. The last Cape Lion seen in Cape Province was killed in 1858, but the last of the species was hunted down in Natal by one General Bisset in 1865.

  • The Cape lion is bigger than the Kruger and Kalahari lions that are common in game reserves of sub-Saharan Africa.

  • The Cape lion resembles the extremely rare Barbary lion of northern Africa but has shorter legs and a darker and smoother mane.

  • The cubs of Cape lions are covered in brown spots, which fade as the animals grow older. Cape lions develop their manes earlier than most lions; eventually these distinctive black manes extend down the back and over the belly.

  • The Cape lion is thought to have once roamed freely on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town. Today, Table Mountain—1,086 meters (3,563 feet) high and named for its flat top—is a popular tourist attraction, visited by 600,000 people a year. Elephants and rhinos also once lived on the mountain.

  • Trophy hunters and farmers protecting their livestock hunted the Cape lion to extinction by 1855.

    It was thought that these Lions were Extinct now for over 130 Some Years But have re-surfaced in Siberias Novosibrisk Zoo.Due to the 30 year search for these Lions By John Spence. You can read more about this below.Did they really escape Extinction?

    BBC News November 5th 2000

    Barbary Lion

    Scientific Name: Panthera leo leo

    Range: (formerly) Northern Africa's Atlas Mountains, Morocco, Tunisia & Algeria

    Average Weight:

    Female: 65-80 kg (325-425 pounds)

    Male: 90-100kg (425-500 pounds)


    Female: 2.13m - 2.74m (7'-9')

    Male: 2.74m - 3.35m (9'-11')

    Status: The Barbary Lion has been extinct since the early 1920's.

    The Barbary Lion was the largest lion of the subspecies.The mane of the Barbary is thick and lush, and extends down the chest through the front legs, down the back below the shoulder, and the length of the belly through to the groin.Female barbary lions had a small light-colored mane as well.The Barbary lions lived in the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa, from Morocco to Egypt. They were more heavily built than today's lions weighing over 500 lbs and reaching 9-11 feet in length. Barbary Lions have been officially declared extinct in the wild.As referenced, the mane extended down the middle of the back as is one of the physical differences between this species and the modern African Lion. The tips of the ears were also black.

    History & Population The extiction of the barbary lion began in the middle ages as Arabic communities expanded in the Sahara. As wild habitats shrunk, the lions began to prey on domestic livestock, causing the local Ottoman governments to call for the extermination of all lions and put a prize on any lion killed.By 1700 the barbary lion was already quite rare. The last Egyptian barbary lions were killed in the 1790s. In Tunisia the last lion was killed in 1891 and the last Algerian barbary lion was killed in 1912.A hunter killed the very last barbary lion in Morocco in 1920.There are Barbary lions in captive breeding programs which are undergoing DNA testing to verify the purity of their origin(it is estimated there are less than 30 in captivity). It is known that the Barbary Lion was kept by Roman Emperors and literally thousand were taken from their homes to Italy to serve in gladiator games.

    Extinction is Forever
    The 3 Species of Tigers Below are Gone Forever!

    Bali Tiger

    Scientific Name: Panthera tigris balica

    Average Weight:

    Female: 65-80 kg (143 - 176 pounds)

    Male: 90-100kg (198 - 221 pounds)


    Female: 6'-3" to 6'-6"

    Male: 7'-3" to 7'-7"

    The Bali Tiger was the smallest subspecies of the tiger Panthera tigris (Linnaeus, 1758). Its weight did not exceed 100 kg. Its size was comparable with the size of a leopard and it was only about half the size of the Siberian (Amur) tiger subspecies. The Bali tiger is apart from its small size, very similar to the Javan subspecies (also extinct), with the same dense pattern of stripes, but perhaps a shade darker. The Bali tiger had a short, dense fur that was of a deep orange colour and carried darker and fewer stripes than the other tiger subspecies. The stripes were wide and tended to branch out. Between the stripes there appeared occasional small black spots. Light areas were of a clear white colour and this subspecies had unusual bars on the head. The skull of the Bali tiger can be identified due to differences in the teeth and nasal bone, which distinguish it from the other subspecies.

    Range & Habitat This subspecies lived on the Indonesian Island of Bali. The tiger population on Bali became isolated from that on Java after the last Ice Age, when the Bali Strait separated the two islands. As far as we know it’s habitat was restricted to the shoreline region of the western part of the island.

    History & Population Because Bali is a small island, the tiger population on Bali must always have been quite low. Rapid increase in the human population and a rising demand for agricultural land lead to deforestation. This has led to the destruction and fragmentation of the already small tiger habitat. At the beginning of the 20th century, tigers probably survived only in the mountainous and relatively sparsely populated western part of the island. Here hunting pressure increased as the country was gradually opened up and many Europeans living in Java organised hunting trips to Bali. As early as the mid-1930s most Bali tigers were museum or trophy specimens. Both trophy hunters and locals carried new and more-efficient firearms. Between the two World Wars the Bali tiger was hunted indiscriminately and by the end of World War II the Balinese subspecies is thought to have disappeared altogether.The last Bali tigers lived in the north-western tip of the island. The last well-documented specimen was killed there at Sumbar Kima, West Bali, on 20th or 27th September 1937. This was an adult tigress.An exact date of extinction is unknown as throughout the 1940s reports persisted that tigers still lived on the island. These came from people considered to be reliable and they continued into the 1950s, though with a reducing frequency. One instance occurred in 1952 when a Dutch forestry officer reported seeing a Bali tiger. There have even sightings continued to surface in the 1970s. One suspected sighting was in a western reserve in 1970 and the Balinese Forestry workers reported another in 1972. Despite these positive reports it is almost certain that the Bali tiger is extinct and little chance it will ever be rediscovered. The remaining forest areas on Bali are simply no longer large enough to provide a tiger with the required shelter and food source.

    Extinction Causes Human population increase, together with agricultural development and deforestation, has led to the disappearance and fragmentation of the already small tiger habitat. The final blow was made by extensively hunting by Europeans.

    Caspian Tiger

    The Caspian Tiger was the second largest tiger. The body of this subspecies was quite stocky and elongated with strong legs, big wide paws and unusually large claws. The ears were short and small and gave the appearance of being without hair on the tips. Around the cheeks the Caspian tiger was generously furred and the rest of the pelage was long and thick. The colouration resembles that of the Bengal tiger. The skin specimen in the British Museum has a yellow-gold colour over the back and flanks, while the sides of the body are lighter that the back and the striping also varies from light to dark brown. The chest and abdomen is white with yellow stripes, while the facial area is yellow with brown stripes on the forehead and obvious white patches around the eyes and cheeks. Outer portions of the legs are yellow and the inner areas white. The tail of this subspecies is yellow and has yellowish white stripes. In winter, the hair is very long, and the tiger has a well-developed belly mane and a short nape mane.

    Range & Habitat The Caspian tiger once ranged throughout Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Iran, Northern Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the Central Asiatic region of Russia. The species occurred in a desert environment, associated with the riverine flora of trees, shrubs and dense reeds and grasses called tugai, associated with watercourses, river basins and lake edges.

    Food The Caspian tiger is known to have followed the migratory herds of their preferred prey animals, such as the boar. In recognition of this, the Kazakh people referred to this tiger as the (road) or (travelling leopard).

    History & Population The Russian government have worked heavily to eradicate the Caspian tiger during planning a huge land reclamation programme in the beginning of the 20th century. They considered there was no room for the tiger in their plans and so instructed the Russian army to exterminate all tigers found around the area of the Caspian Sea, a project that was carried out very efficiently sadly enough. Once the extermination of the Caspian tiger was almost complete the farmers followed, clearing forests and planting crops like rice and cotton. Due to intensive hunting and deforestation, the Caspian tiger retreated first from the lush lowlands to the forested ranges, then to the marshes around some of the larger rivers, and finally, deeper into the mountains, until it almost certainly became extinct.The last stronghold of the Caspian tiger in the former Soviet Union was in the Tigrovaya Balka area. Though the tigers were reported as being found here until the mid-1950s, the reliability of these claims is unknown.An exact date of extinction is unknown. Some reports state that the last Caspian tiger was shot in Golestan National Park (Iran) or in Northern Iran in 1959. There are even claims of a documented killing of this subspecies at Uludere, Hakkari in Turkey during the 1970. Yes other reports state that the final Caspian tiger was captured and killed in Northeast Afghanistan in 1997. The most frequently quoted date is late 1950s, but has almost no evidence to back it up. It appears this date came to be accepted after being quoted by H. Ziaie in "A Field Guide to the Mammals of Iran". Now the most evidence reflects an even earlier date of extinction. The area of Iran that contained the last Caspian tigers was in fact the eastern region of Mazandaran, Northern Iran. According to E. Firouz in “A Guide to the Fauna of Iran, 1999”, the last tiger was killed in 1947 near Agh-Ghomish Village, 10 km East of Kalaleh, on the way to Minoodasht-Bojnoord. No one knows it really for certain.

    Extinction Causes The cause of its extinction is the destruction and fragmentation of its habitat and intensive hunting.

    Javan Tiger

    Scientific Name: Panthera tigris sondaica

    Average Weight:

    Female: 75-115kg (165 - 253 pounds)

    Male: 100-141kg (220 - 310 pounds)

    Size (Length):

    Female: Unknown

    Male: 2480mm (8'-3")

    The Javan Tiger was quite similar in appearance to the still existing Sumatran tiger, but had numerous darker and closer-set black stripes. Striping on the flanks and back was often double-looped. This dense pattern of stripes was characteristic for this subspecies. This subspecies was also notable for their cheek whiskers that were the longest of any of the subspecies. (Van den Hoek Ostende. 1999)

    Range & Habitat The Javan tiger occurred on the Indonesian island of Java.

    History & Population The oldest tiger fossils from Java date from 1.2 million years ago. This prehistoric tiger, Panthera tigris trinilensis, was found at the locality of Trinil, which also yielded the oldest human remains of the island, the famous Java-man. The tiger fossils, reckoned among the oldest in the world, are now stored in the Dubois Collection of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, the Netherlands. Although these fossils have been found on Java, they probably do not belong to a direct ancestor of the Javan tiger. During the Ice Ages the larger Indonesian islands were regularly connected to the mainland, which allowed faunal exchanges. The last time such immigration occurred was during the late Pleistocene, some 50.000 years ago. Tigers, which probably migrated from China, reached Java again. As the sea level rose, the tiger population became isolated and finally developed into the Javan subspecies. (Van den Hoek Ostende. 1999)In the early 19th century Javan tigers were so common all over Java, that in some areas they were considered nothing more than pests. As the human population rapid increased, large parts of the island were cultivated, leading inevitably to a severe reduction of their natural habitat. Wherever man moved in, the Javan tigers were ruthlessly hunted down or poisoned. The Javan tiger experienced growing competition for prey species with wild dogs and leopards. Natives carried much of the hunting out, a surprising thing since they considered the tiger a reincarnation of their dead relatives. By 1940, tigers had become restricted to remote mountain ranges and forests. In the mid-1950s only 20-25 Javan tigers remained on Java. During the 1960s the Javan tiger even disappeared from the famous Ujung Kulon reserve on the western tip of Java, where nowadays the last Javan rhinoceroses live. The last stronghold of the Javan tiger was a rugged area in southeastern Java, known as Meru-Betiri, which had become a game reserve in 1972. It was considered this tiger's last chance for survival. However, even it was declared a reserve, the area was under attack by agricultural development. A track count revealed that in 1979 at most three Javan tigers where still living there. The Javan tiger has not been seen or tracked since. The exact time of extinction remains unknown, but this subspecies must have become extinct in the early 1980s. (Van den Hoek Ostende. 1999)Occasional reports still surface of few tigers to be found in East Java. Meri-Betiri National Park, the least accessible area of the island, is located here and considered the most likely area for any remaining Javan tigers. Despite the continuing claims of sightings it is far more likely that the Javan tiger has become extinct. The 'tigers' are quite likely to be leopards seen from a distance.Some agencies are carrying out experiments using infrared activated remote cameras in an effort to photograph any tigers. Authorities are even prepared to initiate the move of several thousand natives should tiger protection require this. But until concrete evidence can be produced, the Javan tiger must be considered yet another subspecies of the tiger to be extinct and lost forever.

    Extinction Causes The Javan tigers were driven to extinction though a rapid increase in human population leading inevitably to a severe reduction in habitat for the tigers, which e.g. resulted in growing competition for prey species with wild dogs and leopards. Forests were felled and than converted for agricultural use. The Javan tigers were also merciless hunted and poisoned.

    - Prehistoric Cats -

    Smilodon or Saber Tooth Cat

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Mammalia

    Order: Carnivora

    Family: Felidae

    Subfamily: Machairodontinae

    Genus: Smilodon

    Species: Smilodon fatalis

    Smilodon or Saber - Tooth Cat is often called a tiger,but it was actually not a tiger at all. Fossil evidence indicates that Smilodon was a smaller member of the cat family, more like a bobcat than a tiger.Smilodon appears to have stood about 3 feet tall and had thick legs and very muscular shoulders.The most notable feature was its huge fangs. these fangs were about 8 inches long or 20 centmeters and were very sharpe.

    They had the perfect build for a meat - eating killer.The front parts of its body were very stronge and perfect for hanging onto the necks of victimes.The nose was located toward the rear of its skull. This adaptation allowed the animal to breath even while its fangs were buried deep into the flesh of its prey.Fossils show that the lower jaw of the Smilodon opened very wide. This probably meant the beast tore large chunks of meat from its prey.One thing that puzzles Scientist, however.They think Smilodon`s may not have been able to chew those chunks of meat whole, or possibly may have lived on the blood of its victims. may have killed old, sick animals, or those that had become trapped in swampy areas.The remains of the Smilodon have been found in many areas of California.

    Characteristics: Extinct,Short Bobtail,Muscular forelegs,neck and shoulders,Huge Canine fangs, Flesh eater.

    Felis Atrox or Panthera Atrox

    Prehistoric: Mid-Pleistocene

    Class: Mammalia

    Family: Felidae

    Felis Atrox Apperas to have been a lion that once roamed the continent of North America. What`s more, it was one one - third larger then any modern species of lion.They stood taller than 4 feet at shoulder,had a broad muzzle, and legs longer than those of modern-day lions. Fossil remains show that the shape of its skull was similar much like that of modern-day lion, and that the Felis Atrox had similar teeth,mane, and long tail. This fierce meat-eating predator fed on camels,horses,bison, and other grazing animals,Because of its size,Felis Atrox is believed to have been able to run down these animals,rather then pounce on and cling to them in the manner of modern-day lions. Most of the large cats, including the African lion, tiger and European cave lion, are now assigned to the genus Panthera. Some modern authorities also consider Panthera atrox to be a subspecies of the African lion (Panthera leo atrox).

    In 1853, Leidy found an interesting specimen in a collection of mammal fossils donated by the American Philosophical Society an donated to The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. The specimen was a fragment of the lower left jaw which contained four teeth (three molars and a canine). Leidy identified the fossil as that of very large cat. In fact, it was larger than the extinct European cave lion, which until then had been the largest known member of cat family. He named the new animal Felis atrox.

    Felis Atrox ranged through North America from Alaska into Mexico and as far east as the Mississippi River. Scientists believe it lived through the ice age untill about 8,000 years ago. That this Big Cat roamed the Western Mountains is known by the numbers of its bones found there. Probably it lived in the heights and charged down to the plains where herds of its prey grazed. Remains of the Felis Atrox have also been found in the California`s famed La Brea Tar Pits. It was a true King of the Beasts in Prehistoric North America

    Characteristics: Extinct, One third larger than a modern-day lion but with longers legs and a broader muzle,Had a mane and a long tail, preyed on grazing animals.

    Academy of Natural Sciences - Joseph Leidy - Panthera atrox


    Prehistoric: Oligocene

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Mammalia

    Order: Carnivora

    Family: Nimravidae

    Subfamily: Nimravinae

    Genus: Dinictis

    Dinictis May well have been one the most formibable predators that ever roamed the North American continent. From fossil evidence,this ferocious cat thrived about 35 million years ago.Certain skull features seem to suggest that Dinictis was a peculiar mixture of extinct saber-tooth cats and of modern-day cats, such as the common house cat and the tiger. For this reason, Dinictis is sometimes called the (false) saber-toothed cat, though it did not have the long, stabbing canine teeth typical of the saber-toothed cat group.

    Fossil evidence shows the body of the Dinictis to have been that of a primitive carnivore, or meat eater. The cat measured about 40 inches from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. It had short, noncatlike legs. The animal`s true cat characteristics show best in fossil remains of its feet and skull, typical of cats, Dinictis had sharp canine teeth on both the upper an lower jaws. These were followed by premolars and located farther back were the scissorlike shearing teeth typical of modern-day cats. The size of the Dinictis was about the size of todays cats the Cougar.

    The location of fossils in the Dakota Badlands and other western states show that Dinictis preferred to live and hunt near good rivers and on open plains.

    Characteristics: Extinct about 3.5 feet long, Teeth like those of modern cats, Early ancestor of modern cats.

    The Cave Lion

    ©Jochen Duckeck

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Mammalia

    Order: Carnivora

    Family: Felidae

    Genus: Panthera

    Species: Panthera leo

    Subspecies: Panthera leo spelaea

    The cave lion, also known as the European or Eurasian cave lion This cat was one of the largest cats of all time, matched only by the Siberian Tiger and the hybrid known as a Liger and is also the largest subspecies of lion to have ever existed. The cave lion specimens found were 3.5 m (11.5 ft) in length (25% larger than today's largest African lions), with an estimated male weight of between 270 kg (600 lb) and 320 kg (700 lb), and a typical female weighing 175 kg (385 lb).

    - Environment -

    The cave lion lived from 370,000 to 10,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch. It apparently went extinct about 10,000 years ago, during the Wurm glaciation, though there are some indications it may have existed as recently as 2,000 years ago, in the Balkans.It ranged across Europe and Asia, from England all the way to Siberia to Turkistan. Its habitat was the steppes in the north, and the semi-arid deserts in the south.

    It is known from Paleolithic cave paintings, ivory carvings, and clay busts. These representations indicate that cave lions had protruding ears, tufted tails, faint tiger-like stripes, and that at least some males had a "ruff" or primitive mane around their neck. Other artifacts indicate that they played a role in Paleolithic religions.

    They likely preyed on the large, herbivorous animals of their time, including primitive horses. Their extinction may have been related to the Holocene extinction event, which wiped out most of their megafauna prey. Cave paintings and remains found in the refuse piles of ancient camp sites indicate that they were hunted by early humans, which may have also contributed to their demise.

    - History -

    The earliest lion was the European "jaguar" Panthera gombaszoegensis, which lived about 1.5 million years ago; remains have been found in both Italy and Germany. More immediate ancestors are the Panthera leo fossilis from the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa, a primitive lion with tiger characteristics, they first appeared about 500,000 years ago; and the Panthera youngi from Choukoutien, China, which lived about 350,000 years ago, and is apparently an ancestor of both the cave lion and the felis / Panthera atrox.

    Fossil Finds: Common in Europe, with especially large numbers being found at Geilenreuth in Germany and Wierzchowskiej Gornej in Poland.

    Cave or No Cave Lions Almost since paleontologists started digging up bones in Central Europe, it was believed the lions here lived in caves. Scientists assumed this was the case because the first lion bones, skulls and teeth were discovered in caves, including those around Prague and Beroun. But in a recently published paper, Dr. Cajus Diedrich, a German paleontologist, archeozoologist and geologist, says it’s not true. The reason lion bones were found in caves, he maintains, is because hyenas brought them there.“Hyenas were more or less overlooked,” explains Diedrich. “No one liked them, so no one really discussed the possibility that lions could have been imported to the caves by other carnivores. Scientists believed lions were the kings, not to be attacked — which is wrong.”Panthera leo spelaea is the Latin name for the cave lion. But Diedrich says that animal never existed.“Hyenas scavenged the lions outside and then brought them to the caves,” Diedrich says. If lions inhabited the caves, he argues, there would be more bones (only two to three percent of the bones recovered in caves are from lions), along with other evidence, such as lion fecal matter. The fact that lion bones often bear chew marks adds further weight to the idea they did not die natural deaths.

    Longdan Tiger

    It is the oldest known pantherine skull ever found !

    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Mammalia

    Order: Carnivora

    Genus: Panthera

    Species: Panthera zdanskyi

    Temporal Range: Early Pleistocene 2.55–2.16 Million Years

    The Longdan tiger or Panthera zdanskyi is an extinct species of pantherine known from the Gansu province of northwestern China.

    - Description -

    Panthera zdanskyi is known from the holotype BIOPSI 00177, a nearly complete skull and mandible and from the paratype IVPP 13538, a rostrum, premaxilla and maxilla and much of the dentition, originally referred to Panthera palaeosinensis. It was collected in the east slope of Longdan, south of Dongxiang Autonomous county from the Lower Pleistocene Equus fauna, dating to the Gelasian stage of the earliest Pleistocene, about 2.55–2.16 million years ago. It is the oldest known pantherine skull ever found.

    - Etymology -

    The scientific name for this newfound species is Panthera zdanskyi, after the late Austrian paleontologist Otto Zdansky, who revealed much about ancient Chinese fossil carnivores. It was unearthed in 2004 on the eastern slope of Longdan, a village in Gansu, China, giving it the informal name of the Longdan tiger. The cat was only recently analyzed and described online Oct. 10 in the journal PLoS ONE.

    The head is as big as that of a very large modern jaguar's. But the teeth and other skeletal features make it most similar to the skulls of tigers, the largest living big cats. Siberian, or amur, tigers, for example—the world's largest cats—stretch about 11 feet (3.3 meters) long and weigh in at about 660 pounds (300 kilograms).The beast's origins are under intense debate, with suggestions it arose in north-central China,southern China or northern Siberia.

    Until now, a 1.8 - million-year-old set of jawbones from the Panthera palaeosinensis species was the best ancient fossils related to modern big cats.

    The skull of this extinct cat had robust, well-developed upper canine fangs and a relatively long nose, details typical of tigers. Although the size of the skull is comparable with that of the smallest females of living tiger subspecies, its overall shape suggests it belonged to a male. Indeed, despite about 2 million years of separation, the skull of the Longdan tiger appears surprisingly similar to that of modern tigers.

    It seems likely that this tiger's diet would have been similar to that of today's and would have included ungulates such as deer and pigs..

    The researchers suggest this extinct cat was a sister species to the modern tiger. Their analysis argues that the tiger lineage developed features of its skull and upper teeth early on, while its lower jaw and teeth evolved at a different rate. A similar pattern of "mosaic evolution" is seen in the cheetah lineage, they noted. The evolutionary trend of increasing size in the tiger lineage is likely coupled its prey evolving larger body sizes, the researchers added.

    It will be interesting to see whether further fossil big cats are discovered in China and elsewhere, which expand our knowledge of the distribution of this species and fill in more gaps in the tiger's fossil history, Kitchenersaid. Confirming a more precise dating of Panthera zdanskyi would also be invaluable for understanding its position in the tiger's evolutionary timescale.

    - Cranial Number - Crunching -

    Skull fragments of big cats dating back to 3.8 million years ago have been found but are too incomplete to provide a useful glimpse into the evolutionary history of tigers, according to the study.The big cat that owned the recently recovered skull likely roamed China between 2.16 and 2.55 million years ago, according to the study, led by paleontologist Ji H. Mazák of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

    At 10 inches (26 centimeters) long, the skull is between the sizes of an average jaguar skull (about 8.7 inches/22 centimeters) and a tiger skull (about 12 inches/30 centimeters).

    By plugging measurements and images of the skull into a database of fossilized and modern-day specimens, the study authors were able to place the new species—named Panthera zdanskyi—alongside tigers in the big cat family tree.The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center's Meachen said the skull's similarity to those of living tigers and jaguars is more striking than the differences.[Big cats] were great at what they did right away in their evolution, so their [anatomy] hasn't changed much"she said.They were—and still are—really good predators, in part because of their extremely successful body plan.

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