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Temporal range: Oligocene–Recent
Ailurus fulgens RoterPanda LesserPanda.jpg
Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Superfamily: Musteloidea
Family: Ailuridae
Gray, 1843
Subfamilies and Genera
Ailurus fulgens distribution.svg
Extant red panda distribution.

Ailuridae is a family in the mammal order Carnivora. The family consists of the red panda (the sole living representative) and its extinct relatives.

Georges Cuvier first described Ailurus as belonging to the raccoon family in 1825; this classification has been controversial ever since.[1] It was classified in the raccoon family because of morphological similarities of the head, colored ringed tail, and other morphological and ecological characteristics. Somewhat later, it was assigned to the bear family.[2]

Molecular phylogenetic studies had shown that, as an ancient species in the order Carnivora, the red panda is relatively close to the American raccoon and may be either a monotypic family or a subfamily within the procyonid family.[1][3][4] An in-depth mitochondrial DNA population analysis study stated: “According to the fossil record, the Red Panda diverged from its common ancestor with bears about 40 million years ago."[1][5] With this divergence, by comparing the sequence difference between the red panda and the raccoon, the observed mutation rate for the red panda was calculated to be on the order of 109, which is apparently an underestimate compared with the average rate in mammals.[6] This underestimation is probably due to multiple recurrent mutations as the divergence between the red panda and the raccoon is extremely deep.[citation needed]

The most recent molecular-systematic DNA research places the red panda into its own independent family, Ailuridae. Ailuridae are, in turn, part of a trichotomy within the broad superfamily Musteloidea[7] that also includes the Procyonidae (raccoons) and a group that further subdivides into the Mephitidae (skunks) and Mustelidae (weasels); but it is not a bear (Ursidae).[8]

Red pandas have no close living relatives, and their nearest fossil ancestors, Parailurus, lived 3-4 million years ago. There may have been as many as three different species of Parailurus, all larger and more robust in the head and jaw than Ailurus, living in Eurasia and possibly crossing the Bering Strait into the Americas. The red panda may be the sole surviving species - a specialized offshoot surviving the last glacial period in a Chinese mountain refuge.[2]


In addition to Ailurus, the family Ailuridae includes seven extinct genera, most of which are assigned to three subfamilies, Amphicinae, Simocyoninae, and Ailurinae.[9][10][11][12][13]

  • Family Ailuridae (Gray, 1843)
    • Subfamily †Amphictinae (Winge, 1895)
      • Amphictis (Pomel, 1853)
        • Amphictis borbonica (Viret, 1929)
        • Amphictis ambigua (Gervais, 1872)
        • Amphictis milloquensis (Helbing, 1928)
        • Amphictis antiqua (de Blainville, 1842)
        • Amphictis schlosseri (Heizmann and Morlo, 1994)
        • Amphictis prolongata (Morlo, 1996)
        • Amphictis wintershofensis (Roth, 1994)
        • Amphictis cuspida (Nagel, 2003)
        • Amphictis timucua (Baskin, 2017)[14]
    • Subfamily †Simocyoninae (Dawkins, 1868)
      • Actiocyon (Stock, 1947)
        • Actiocyon parverratis (Smith et al., 2016)[15]
        • Actiocyon leardi (Stock, 1947)
      • Alopecocyon (Camp & Vanderhoof, 1940)
        • Alopecocyon getti (Mein, 1958)
        • Alopecocyon goeriachensis (Toula, 1884)
      • Protursus (Crusafont & Kurtén, 1976)
        • Protursus simpsoni (Crusafont & Kurtén, 1976)
      • Simocyon (Wagner, 1858)
        • Simocyon primigenius (Roth & Wagner, 1854)
        • Simocyon diaphorus (Kaup, 1832)
        • Simocyon batalleri (Viret, 1929)
        • Simocyon hungaricus (Kadic & Kretzoi, 1927)
        • Simocyon sp. (Wang et al., 1998)
    • Subfamily Ailurinae (Gray, 1843)
      • Magerictis (Ginsburg et al., 1997)
        • Magerictis imperialis (Ginsburg et al., 1997)
      • Pristinailurus (Wallace & Wang, 2004)
        • Pristinailurus bristoli (Wallace & Wang, 2004)
      • Parailurus (Schlosser, 1899)
        • Parailurus sp. (Morlo & Kundrát, 2001) - Včeláre panda
        • Parailurus hungaricus (Kormos, 1935)
        • Parailurus anglicus (Dawkins, 1888) - English panda
        • Parailurus baikalicus (Sotnikova, 2008)
        • Parailurus sp. (Sasagawa et al., 2003) - Japanese panda
        • Parailurus sp. (Tedford & Gustafson, 1977) - American panda
      • Ailurus (F. Cuvier, 1825)
        • Ailurus fulgens (F. Cuvier, 1825) - red panda


  1. ^ a b c Mayr, E (1986). "Uncertainty in Science: is the Giant panda a bear or a raccoon?". Nature. 323 (6091): 769–771. doi:10.1038/323769a0. PMID 3774006.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, MS; Gittleman, JL (1984). "Ailurus fulgens". Mammalian Species. American Society of Mammalogists. 222 (222): 1–8. doi:10.2307/3503840. JSTOR 3503840.
  3. ^ Zhang, YP; Ryder, OA (1993). "Mitochondrial DNA sequence evolution in the Arctoidea". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 90 (20): 9557–9561. doi:10.1073/pnas.90.20.9557. PMC 47608. PMID 8415740.
  4. ^ Slattery JP; O'Brien, SJ (1995). "Molecular Phylogeny of the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)". J. Hered. 86 (6): 413–422. PMID 8568209.
  5. ^ Su, Bing; Yunxin Fu; Yingxiang Wang; Li Jin; Ranajit Chakraborty (2001). "Genetic Diversity and Population History of the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) as Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variations". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 18 (6): 1070–1076. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a003878. PMID 11371595.
  6. ^ Li, Wen-Hsiung (2007). Molecular Evolution. Sinauer Associates. ISBN 978-0-87893-480-5. [page needed]
  7. ^ Flynn et al., 2001[full citation needed]
  8. ^ Flynn, John J.; Nedbal, Michael A.; Dragoo, Jerry W.; Honeycutt, Rodney L. (1 November 2000). "Whence the Red Panda?" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 17 (2): 190–199. doi:10.1006/mpev.2000.0819. ISSN 1055-7903. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  9. ^ McKenna, MC; Bell SK (1997). Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231528535. [page needed]
  10. ^ Peigné, S.; M. Salesa; M. Antón; J. Morales (2005). "Ailurid carnivoran mammal Simocyon from the late Miocene of Spain and the systematics of the genus" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 50: 219–238.
  11. ^ Salesa, M.; M. Antón; S. Peigné; J. Morales (2006). "Evidence of a false thumb in a fossil carnivore clarifies the evolution of pandas". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (2): 379–382. doi:10.1073/pnas.0504899102. PMC 1326154. PMID 16387860.
  12. ^ Wallace, SC; Wang, X (2004). "Two new carnivores from an unusual late Tertiary forest biota in eastern North America" (PDF). Nature. 431 (7008): 556–559. doi:10.1038/nature02819. PMID 15457257.
  13. ^ Morlo, Michael; Peigné, Stéphane (2010). "Molecular and morphological evidence for Ailuridae and a review of its genera". Carnivoran Evolution: New Views on Phylogeny, Form, and Function. pp. 92–140. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139193436.005. ISBN 978-0-521-73586-5.
  14. ^ Jon A. Baskin (2017). "Additional carnivorans from the early Hemingfordian Miller Local Fauna, Florida". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 37 (2): e1293069. doi:10.1080/02724634.2017.1293069.
  15. ^ Kent Smith; Nicholas Czaplewski; Richard Cifelli (2016). "Middle Miocene carnivorans from the Monarch Mill Formation, Nevada". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 61 (1): 231–252. doi:10.4202/app.00111.2014.

Further reading

  • Davis, Davis D. (1964). “The Giant Panda: A Morphological Study of Evolutionary Mechanisms.“ Zoology Memoirs. Vol. 3:1-339.
  • Decker D.M. and W.C. Wozencraft. (1991). “Phylogenetic Analysis of Recent Procyonid Genera.“ Journal of Mammalogy. Vol. 72 (1): 42-55.
  • Flynn, J.J. and G.D. Wesley Hunt. (2005a). “Carnivora.“ in The Rise of Placental Mammals: Origin, Timing and Relationships of the Major Extant Clades, by D. Archibold and K. Rose. Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-8022-X
  • Flynn, John J., et al. (2005b). “Molecular phylogeny of the Carnivora (Mammalia): ASS-ASS the impact of increased sampling to on resolving enigmatic relationships.“ Systematic Biology. Vol. 54 (2):1-21. [1]
  • Flynn, John J. Flynn, Michael A. Nedbal, J.W. Dragoo, and R.L. Honeycutt. (1998) "Whence the Red Panda?" Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Vol. 17, No. 2, November 2000, pp. 190–199. [2]
  • Glatston, A.R. (1989). Talk Panda Biology. The Hague. ISBN 90-5103-026-6
  • Glatston, A.R. (compiler) (1994). “The Red Panda, Olingos, Coatis, Raccoons, and their Relatives: Status survey and conservation action plan for Procyonids and Ailurids.”
  • IUCN/SSC Mustelid, Viverrid, and Procyonid Specialist Group. IUCN/SSC, Gland, Switzerland.
  • Gregory, W.K. (1936). “On the Phylogenetic Relationships of the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda) to other Arctoid Carnivores.“ American Museum Novitates. Vol. 878:1-29.
  • Hu, J.C. (1990). “Proceedings of studies of the red panda.” Chinese Scientific Publishing, Beijing, China [in Chinese].
  • Wilson, Don E. and DeeAnn M. Reeder. (2005). Mammal of Species of the World. Johns Hopkins University press. ISBN 0-8018-8221-4.
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