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Cat Evolution: From Doppelgangers to House Cats and Lions

Cat Evolution: From Doppelgangers to House Cats and Lions

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2KMember2653 XPOct-07-2019 2:26 PM

A long time ago during the Early Paleocene a group of tree dwelling mammals these were the basal carnivora (the clade, not the diet) sometime time later in the span of a few million years, two suborders evolved; the dog-like Caniformia and the cat-like Feliformia.


The Feliforms resembled civets, barely anything resembling a cat until a linage of basal Feliforms splintered off from the rest of the other feliforms. These were the Nimravidae, a linage of feliforms that resembled sabertooth cats to a degree however unlike cats the Nimravids brains stayed the same size regardless of body size. They went extinct when their habitats the forests gave way to grasslands and having to compete with another linage of Feliforms...

The Aeluroidae evolved during the middle of the Nimravids' reign and from this clade the basal aeluroids Nandiniidae, the infraorder Feloidea (Cats and Linsangs), and infraorder Viverroidea (Civets, Hyenas, Genets, and Mongooses) evolved and latter over took the niches the Nimravids held for so many millions of years.

Since this topic is about Cats, we will focus on the Feloids for now. The Feloids later evolved into Prionodontidae (Asiatic Linsangs) and the related basal Haplogale, the cat-like Barbourofelidae and basal Feloid Stenogale (which may be the ancestors of true cats), and finally Felidae (True Cats)

Felids were at once a single unbroken linage of basal cats called Proailurinae until around the miocene its decedents diversified into three subfamilies: Machairodontinae (True Sabertooth Cats), Pantherinae (Big Cats), and Felinae (Small Cats)

Machairodontinae further divided into four clade tribes: Homotherini, which includes Homotherium, AmphimachairodusLokotunjailurus, Nimravides, and Xenosmilus.

Machairodontini, which includes Machairodus, Hemimachairodus, and Miomachairodus

Metailurini, which includes Metailurus, Stenailurus, Adelphailurus, Dinofelis, and Yoshi (Not the Nintendo character)

Smilodontiniwhich includes Smilodon, Megantereon, Paramachairodus, Promegantereon, and Rhizosmilodon

Soon the Sabertooth Cats like the Nimravidae were outcompeted by another linage, Evolution never stays still as the sabertoothed cats were evolving so too their relatives, the Pantherinae and Felinae; by the time of the pleistocene all sabertoothed linages were wiped out save for smilodon who was in turned wiped out by a hairless ape known as Man at the dawn of the holocene.  

The Pantherinae contained only two genera: Neofelis (Clouded Leopards) and Panthera.

Panthera contains the oldest and possibly the most basal Panthera shawi, Panthera palaeosinensis, Panthera blytheae, and the sole living basal Panthera uncia (Modern Snow Leopard). 

Panthera zdanskyi (Possible Tiger ancestor) and Panthera sondaica (either a close relative to the Tiger or a Tiger subspecies), and Panthera tigris (Modern Tiger)

Panthera gombaszoegensis (European Jaguar), Panthera schreuderi (which may have been the same as gombaszoegensis), and Panthera onca (Modern Jaguar)

Panthera youngi (Japanese Lion), Panthera atrox (American Lion), Panthera spelaea (European Lion), Panthera leo (Modern Lion), and Panthera pardus (Modern Leopard)

Then you have the smaller Felinae (Small Cats) which contains like 20 genera. I will add them in a bit, power is fluctuating 


17 Responses to Cat Evolution: From Doppelgangers to House Cats and Lions


ContributorMember968 XPOct-07-2019 2:35 PM

Interesting. I didn't know all cats had a very complex evolutionary history behind them.


2KMember2653 XPOct-07-2019 4:03 PM

Felinae are represented by its plethora of different genera:

Acinonyx (Cheetah and Giant Cheetah)

Caracal (African Golden Cat and Caracal)

Catopuma (Asian Golden Cat and Bay Cat)

Felis (House Cat, European Wild Cat, Jungle Cat, African Wildcat, Black-Footed Cat, Sand Cat, Chinese Mountain Cat)

Leopardus (Ocelot, Oncilla, Kodkod, Pampas Cat, Margay, Geoffry's Cat, Andean Mountain Cat, Southern Tiger Cat)

Herpailurus (Jaguarundi)

Leptailurus (Serval)

Lynx (Eurasian Lynx, Canada Lynx, Iberian Lynx, Bobcat, and the extinct Issoire lynx)

Otocolobus (Pallas's Cat)

Pardofelis (Marbled Cat)

Prionailurus (Leopard Cat, Sunda Leopard Cat, Flat-Headed Cat, Fishing Cat, Rusty-Spotted Cat, Iriomote Cat)

Puma (Modern Cougar/Mountain Lion and the extinct Eurasian Cougar)

Extinct Linages





Miracinonyx (American Cheetah)






RespectedMember1630 XPOct-07-2019 6:44 PM


If people weren't lazy, we wouldn't try to be efficient. If we weren't efficient, we'd never get anything done.


2KMember2653 XPOct-07-2019 9:31 PM

I bet yall didn't know that the Hyena was a relative to the cat


RespectedMember1630 XPOct-08-2019 9:03 AM

Actually... not to be that guy... BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT

If people weren't lazy, we wouldn't try to be efficient. If we weren't efficient, we'd never get anything done.


2KMember2653 XPOct-08-2019 9:07 AM

I am not saying that Hyena's are felids, they are just feliforms; they are closely related to Civets than True Cats


RespectedMember1630 XPOct-08-2019 12:05 PM

Not what I meant. I meant, "Actually... not to be that guy... BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT I already knew that..."

If people weren't lazy, we wouldn't try to be efficient. If we weren't efficient, we'd never get anything done.


2KMember2653 XPOct-08-2019 2:38 PM

Okay it was for the benefit of anyone that didn't know


InitiateMember186 XPOct-08-2019 11:00 PM


Yes I did.  The only reason people think (spotted) hyenas are so closely related to dogs is because of their very similar morphological and behavioural traits to canines in several elements of convergent evolution, and then...Lion King.

So Simba and Nala were hunted by, and then fought, giant mongooses.  Not dogs.  Give that a thought...


2KMember2653 XPOct-09-2019 5:19 AM

well Disney has the habit of not doing their research


ConversationalistMember1268 XPOct-09-2019 5:25 AM

I like cats

she/her/herself, dino/saur/dinoself, robo/bot/roboself


InitiateMember186 XPOct-09-2019 7:02 AM


Disney did do their research for Lion King's.  Artists and some other production members went to one of California's universities to study spotted hyenas.  But they ignored it in favour "artistic license".

And that's completely ok, especially for a traditional animated movie.

The new Lion King changed them for the better.  The new voice actress for Shenzi stated, "Those hyenas were funny.  THESE hyenas are scary."  And aren't they ever!

Still, they act a lot like dogs, but that's fine too, because they do so in real life.


2KMember2653 XPOct-09-2019 7:50 AM

well yeah I believe Hyenas would act dog like since they are basically full-filling that niche. Heck if Caniforms were to go extinct, It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination that hyenas would replace that entire clade


ContributorMember968 XPOct-09-2019 12:25 PM

I didn't know Hyenas were giant mongooses.

Also, are you going to do Dog Evolution next? I am really interested to learn about that.


RespectedMember1630 XPOct-09-2019 12:30 PM

I want to hear about Desmostylid (not sure if that's the name) evolution, I think it's pretty interesting.

If people weren't lazy, we wouldn't try to be efficient. If we weren't efficient, we'd never get anything done.


2KMember2653 XPOct-09-2019 3:17 PM



2KMember2653 XPJul-18-2020 7:36 PM

Well I did say maybe not a definitive yes they were the cats ancestors 


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