Fossil Record of the Neofelids

Following is a chart of the time frames for the existence of the modern cats. This does not include all cat fossils but rather those in the most widely accepted major groupings. Also, the fossil record is evidence of when these cats lived; Lack of fossil evidence does not prove that the cats didn't live beyond the indicated ranges and locations. On the chart, a dot at the end of a time range means that the species or at least one species within the genus has not gone extinct.

There are many competing theories as to how the family lines should be connected. In order to emphasize the evidence and remove some of the confusion caused by conjecture, this chart doesn't include any connecting lines.

Cats belong to the family Felidae in the suborder Feliformia. Other fossils from this same suborder greatly resemble cats, but since they are not categorized as being in the family Felidae, they are not included here.

  Family Felidae (true cats)

  Subfamily Machairodontinae (saber-toothed cats)

  Subfamily Felinae (conical-toothed cats)


  North America      
  South America      









  Machairodus (Tiger-size)

  Paramachairodus (Clouded-leopard-size)

  Metailurus (Puma-size)


  Homotherium (Lion-size)

  Dinofelis (Jaguar-size)

  Panthera leo (Panthera atrox in Americas)

  Acinonyx jubatis (Cheetah)

  Acinonyx pardinensis (Giant Cheetah)

  Miracinonyx (American Cheetah)

  Smilodon (Lion-size)

  Megantereon (Leopard-size)

  Panthera onca (Jaguar)

  Panthera tigris (Tiger)

  Panthera pardus (Leopard)

  Panthera uncia (Snow Leopard)

  Panthera gombaszoegensis (European Jaguar)

  Puma concolor (Puma)

Reference: The Big Cats and Their Fossil Relatives, by Alan Turner

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