Classification of Panthera Tigris Sumatrae


Panthera tigris sumatrae is an interesting specimen to behold. The name comes from certain characteristics of its genus, species, and subspecies names. The species name is derived from terms referring to a roaring cat containing vertical black stripes located on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra. The lineage of Panthera tigris sumatrae is comprised of many evolutionary acquisitions that are similar in most ways to the lineage of humans (Homo sapiens sapiens).


Domain: Eukarya

     This species evolved from an endosymbiosis of an early eukaryotic cell and a protobacterium (van der Giezen 2011). The endosymbiosis brought mitochondria to the early protoeukaryotic cells, which allowed for the ability of organisms to break down sugars to form pyruvate, which then reacts with oxygen gas to produce Adenine Triphosphate (ATP) for energy (van der Giezen 2011). Panthera tigris sumatrae, and other organsims such as the Komodo Dragon, are able to use cellular respiration as a means of producing fuel for hunting prey. Along with mitochondria, eukaryotes have many other membrane-bound organelles such as lysosomes (Digestive vacuoles). Compartmentaliztion of an organism's many biological processes allows for cell differentiation in all members of this Domain.


Clade: Opisthokonta

     The major synapomorphy that unites all of these organisms is  the possession of specialized cells that contain posterior flagellum. In the case of this particular organism, sperm cells use these posterior flagella for locomotion while fertilizing the egg.


Kingdom: Animalia

     What defines this species as a member of Animalia is the fact that it is heterotrophic, or it acquires its nutrients from an outside source. It then ingests food into an orifice and then digests food with specialized enzymes. Cell membranes separate the individual cells from each other in order for differentiation within the organism to occur (Dacres 2007).


Phylum: Chordata

   Panthera tigris sumatrae shares synapomorphies with other Chordates as it has a notochord during embryonic development, as well as a spinal cord that encloses nervous tissue running from the anterior end to the posterior end of the organism (Meyers 2001 and Catala et al. 1996). With this synapomorphy, the organism contains a vast network that actively communicates with the rest of the body. This network allows the organism to regulate hormones, sense the environment, tell the organism that it's time to hunt, and much more.


Class: Mammalia

     Female tigers have mammary glands that produce milk (Dacres 2007). Also, all tigers have ear bones (hammer, anvil, and stirrup) that amplify sound, differentiated teeth for chewing and grinding, and an exterior fur coat that provides insulation during cold temperatures (Wund and Meyers 2005). Panthera tigris sumatrae utilizes internal gestation when their young develop. Once the offspring are born, they are dependent on milk for nourishment and growth (Wund and Meyers 2005).


Order: Carnivora

    This organism is classified in the order Carnivora due to the "carnassials pair of teeth (enlarged 4th upper premolar and 1st molar") for chewing bones and connective tissue (Poor 2014). Also, their diet primarily consists of animal matter (Poor 2014). Like humans, the organism has a simple digestive system with specialized structures known as villi in the intestines, which aid in absorption of essential nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Also, like other organisms, Panthera tigris sumatrae is a very intelligent creature with a large brain (Poor 2014). 


Family: Felidae

     This organism belongs to the family Felidae because it exhibits sexual dimorphism (males are larger in size than females), has whiskers located on the frontal region, and retractable claws located on the pedal region (Etynre et al. 2011). Because of the latter two synapomorphies, the organism is able to sense its surroundings and engage prey or competitiors.


Genus: Panthera

   The organism is a member of the genus Panthera because it utilizes muscles in order to make a roaring noise  (Dacres 2007). Also, likes its relatives, Panthera tigris suamtrae exhibits sexual dimorphism (Dacres 2007).


Species: Panthera tigris

     This species is a member of Panthera tigris because it exhibits a reddish-orange fur that contains black, vertical stripes which wrap around its body and tail (Dacres 2007). Also, it has white spots on the back of its ear (Dacres 2007). Like many other members of Panthera Tigris, the Sumatran tiger is a solitary organism that hunts in dense forests (Dacres 2007). This species has "well-developed saggital crests and coronoid processes (Jaw attacthment points)" that allow for tigers to chew through almost anything (Dacres 2007).


Subspecies: Panthera tigris sumatrae

     Lastly, Sumatran tigers are members of the subspecies Panthera tigris sumatrae because they are endemic only to the Indonesian island of Sumatra (Dacres 2007). 



Phylogenetic Tree Observations

    As previously mentioned, Panthera tigris sumatrae is a subspecies of Panthera tigris. Regarding Figure 2, this organism is closely related to Panthera tigris amoyenesis due to the fact that they share the most recent common ancestor of Panthera tigris sumatrae. This indicates that the organism most likely evolved from Panthera tigris amoyenesis as it populated the island of Sumatra. Also, Figure 2 shows that other organisms, such as the Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), evolved from the most recent common ancestor of the Sumatran Tiger. Looking at Figure 1, the species is closely related to the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia), which is the most recent common ancestor of the jaguar (Panthera onca). The relationship in this phylogeny show that leopards, jauguars, and lions (Panthera leo) evolved from Panthera tigris, as Panthera tigris is the outgroup of the Panthera Clade.    

Redrawn from Oxford Journals

 Figure 1. Phylogenetic Tree of family Felidae.


  Figure 2. Phylogenetic Tree of Panthera tigris.


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