Taxonomy

The jaguar is the only remaining 'new world' member of the Panthera genus.

Numerous subspecies of the jaguar have been recognised, but recent research suggests just 3 exist.

Geographical barriers limit gene flow within the species, such as the Amazon river.

Evolution

DNA evidence shows that the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, snow leopard and clouded leopard share a common ancestor and that this group is between 6 and 10 million years old.

The fossil record points to the emergence of Panthera just 2 to 3.8 million years ago.

Phylogenetic studies have shown that the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is basal to this group. The position of the remaining species varies between studies and is effectively unresolved.

Analysis of jaguar mitochondrial DNA has dated the species lineage to between 280,000 and 510,000 years ago - later than suggested by fossil records.

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