The earliest found remains of tigers come from China and they are dated at more than 2 million years old. These early fossil remains indicate that the tiger was much smaller then than it is today. However, it is strongly believed that the tiger is related to the Saber Tooth from about 35 million years ago. They evolved into some subspecies about 25 million years ago and that is where the tiger fits in.
It is believed that the South China Tiger is one that the various subspecies have all evolved from. This information is based upon scientific research and DNA testing. Sadly, this particular tiger is very limited in numbers and many experts feel it will be extinct in 10 years or less. Hopefully positive efforts and conservation can prevent that from occurring.
However, genetic profiling also shows that the Sumatran Tiger is very different from the other species out there. The theory is that they were isolated from other tigers more than 12 million years ago due to a rise in the sea level. As a result their genetic profile as a species is more unique that that of others.
It is believed that the Bengal Tigers moved into the area we now call India about 12 million years ago as well. That indicates that something major was going on regarding the surface area of the Earth. The tigers had to move to new locations in order to continue surviving. They are protected in India but poaching continues as does poisoning them by ranchers that are tired of their livestock being killed.
What is fascinating is that tigers have been able to survive so much in the past. However, because of the choices of humans that is becoming more and more difficult for them to do so. If we don’t work harder to protect these animals then they will soon be something of the past. We won’t have anything but fossils to work with in regards to them. We won’t be able to benefit from them to learn from or their contribution to the ecosystem. That is all a great deal to think about, but a burden that should encourage you to take action.
It is hopeful that more questions that we have about the evolution of tigers will be answered in the future. As new technology emerges and new fossils are discovered the puzzle pieces will fit better. New theories will emerge and old ones will be credited or disproved. There is no denying that the evolution of tigers has a fascinating story behind it. We just don’t know what all of the pages of that story have to say to us yet.
Many researchers are holding out for the day when we find those fossils that are much older than 2 million years. Then we can get huge input to what they looked like and how they evolved to be the cats we know and love today. In the mean time we can only speculate about what all was roaming the Earth back then and the actual form that cats had in it.
It is believed that more subspecies of tigers may have existed at some point. There is still a great deal of information to uncover about the past for the tiger. One of the many reasons why we have limited information though is due to the priority of protecting the tigers we have left from extinction. The time and money available is best spent helping to see their numbers increasing rather than allowing them to become a part of the past as well.