The tiger is a predator from the family of cats, which is one of the main representatives of the genus Panthera. The meaning of the word “tiger” is literally translated from the ancient Greek language as “fast, sharp”. One of the largest predators, the tiger is inferior only to bears – white and brown.
Of the nine known subspecies of the tigers, only six have survived: the Amur tiger, the Bengali tiger, the Malayan, the Sumatran, the Indo-Chinese and the South Chinese tiger. As for the Javanese, Balinese and Caspian tigers – these subspecies were completely exterminated by man. Most of the total number of tigers, ranging from 4,000 to 6,500 specimens, are Bengal tigers – their share reaches 40% of the total population. In the last century, the tiger was included in the protection documents of many countries. It is also included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Since 2013, a ban on hunting for tigers around the world has been introduced.
Studies of world scientists have proved that the center of origin of the species of tigers was East Asia. Such a conclusion was made after the study of the found fossil remains of the animal. Such studies are considered quite complex – palaeontological finds in the field of studying tigers were few, and their contamination and fragmentation did not allow to establish the exact date of origin of the remains.
The most ancient remains of tigers were found in the north of China and on the island of Java – they led to the conclusion that more than two million years ago tigers were already very common in eastern Asia, and also in such islands as Borneo and Palawan. Numerous studies have shown that the species of tigers was separated from the general line of the ancestors of the genus Panthera (proving at the same time strong family ties connecting representatives of this genus) long before the lion, leopard, and also the jaguar.
Tiger is the largest wild cat with a massive, muscular, flexible body. The front part of the body of the tigers is much larger than the rear. In the sacral department, the tiger is lower than in the humerus department. Its front paws have five fingers, while the rear paws have only four fingers, the claws on all the fingers are retractable. The body weight, as well as the size of the tiger, largely depend on its subspecies – the largest recognized Bengal and Amur tigers.
If we talk about males of these subspecies of tigers, then their mass can reach 275 kg, and in some cases all 320 kg. The body length of such tigers can be 2.5 – 2.8 m without taking into account the length of the tail. The height at the withers of a tiger is usually more than a meter. Female tigers are often inferior in size to males – their average body weight is from 100 to 180 kg.
The head of the tiger is of a regular rounded shape, its protruding facial part has a neat convex forehead. Small ears of the animal – the correct rounded shape. On the sides of the head of the tiger are the tanks. Vibrissae white, in six rows, reaching 16.5 cm in length and 1.5 cm in thickness, have increased sensitivity. The massive skull of the tiger, the condylobasal length of which reaches 200 mm, has large broad cheekbones. The pupils of the tiger are round, outlined by a yellow iris.
The dentition of the adult tiger is represented by thirty teeth – six incisors and two canines on the upper and lower jaw. The tusks of the tiger can reach 8 cm in the din, and the tongue has tubercles covered with cornified epithelium – these characteristics allow the animal not only to kill prey, but also to quickly disrupt it. This feature of the animal’s tongue helps him during hygiene procedures.
As for the hairline, the northern representatives of the species are more dense and taller than the southern ones. The color of tigers varies from reddish-brown to reddish shades. The area of the abdomen and chest is usually painted in light colors. Brown, and sometimes black, transverse bands encircle the tiger’s body, descending with sharp endings to his stomach. On the back of the torso of the beast, the bands are usually larger – starting at the sacrum, the strips descend towards the hip, ending either in the middle, or reach the upper leg and descend to the inner side of the leg.
Most of the muzzle has a light color – black spots are visible only in the area of the lower lip and corners of the mouth. A complex pattern, formed by short black transverse bands, adorns the forehead, the nape and the parietal part of the head of the tiger. A long black line emerges from behind the ear of the beast, descending the neck to the very throat. The ears of the tiger are white in front, and the back is black, with a white spot in the upper part. The sides of the head and tiger tanks are striated by black strips of white wool.
The tail of the tiger is girded with ten rings of black color and is crowned with the same black tip. Usually the number of bands on the body of a tiger reaches 100 pieces, and the shape of the bands and the distance between them depends on the particular subspecies of tigers. Their main function is to help the animal to disguise itself in the wild. The surprising fact is that the location of the bands on the body of the tiger is similar to the fingerprints on the human hands – it is unique in every individual