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Temporal range: Pliocene-Present,3.6–0 Ma
Panda ChiangMaiZoo humarkus.jpg
The giant panda, the only extant species in the genus and subfamily.
Ailuropoda fovealis skull.jpg
Ailuropoda fovealis skull
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Subfamily: Ailuropodinae
Grevé, 1894
Genus: Ailuropoda
Milne-Edwards, 1870

A. baconi
A. melanoleuca
A. microta
A. minor
A. wulingshanensis

Ailuropoda is the only extant genus in the ursid (bear) subfamily Ailuropodinae. It contains one living and four fossil species of giant panda.[1]

Only one species—Ailuropoda melanoleuca—currently exists; the other four species are prehistoric chronospecies. Despite its taxonomic classification as a carnivoran, the giant panda has a diet that is primarily herbivorous, which consists almost exclusively of bamboo.

Giant pandas have descended from Ailurarctos, which lived during the late Miocene.[1]

In 2011 fossil teeth from over 11 mya found in the Iberian peninsula were identified as belonging to a previously unidentified species in the Ailuropodinae. This species was named Agriarctos beatrix[2] (now Kretzoiarctos).[3]


From Greek αἴλουρος "cat" + ‒́ποδος "foot". Unlike most bears, giant pandas do not have round pupils. They have vertical slits, as cats' eyes. This has not only inspired the Latin name, for in Chinese the giant panda is called "large cat bear" (大熊猫, dà xióngmāo) and in Standard Tibetan, "cat bear" (byi-la dom).


Other pandas[edit]

Formerly, the red, or lesser, panda (Ailurus fulgens) was considered closely related to giant pandas. It is no longer considered a bear, however, and is now classified as the sole living representative of a different carnivore family (Ailuridae).


  1. ^ a b Jin, Changzhu; Russell L. Ciochon, Wei Dong, Robert M. Hunt Jr., Jinyi Liu, Marc Jaeger and Qizhi Zhu (June 19, 2007). "The first skull of the earliest giant panda" (PDF; fee required). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (26): 10932–10937. doi:10.1073/pnas.0704198104. PMC 1904166. PMID 17578912. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  2. ^ J., P. Montoya, and J. Morales. "A New Species of Agriarctos (Ailuropodinae, Ursidae, Carnivora) in the Locality of Nombrevilla 2 (Zaragoza, Spain)." Estudios Geologicos 67.2 (2011): 187-191
  3. ^ Abella, Juan, David M. Alba, Josep M. Robles, Alberto Valenciano, Cheyenn Rotgers, Raül Carmona, Jorge Morales, and Plinio Montoya. "Kretzoiarctos Gen. Nov., the Oldest Member of the Giant Panda Clade." PLOS ONE 7.11 (2012): 1-5.