Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

First North American record of the extinct panda Parailurus


THE living pandas are restricted to the mountains of south-eastern Asia where both the giant panda (Aeluropoda) and the lesser panda (Ailurus) occur. They overlap in geographical range only in Szechuan, China, and there they are separated altitudinally, with the lesser panda favouring higher elevations1. Pleistocene records extend the range of the giant panda into Burma and eastern China, but the lesser panda has apparently not had a significantly wider range during the Quaternary2. Considerable controversy surrounds the phylogenetic relationships of both genera as they represent some of the most derived of terrestrial Carnivora. Recent marshalling of anatomical evidence on the giant panda has demonstrated its fundamental affinity with other members of the Ursidae3. The position of the lesser panda is equivocal although it is usually assigned to the Procyonidae. Procyonids are widely thought to be restricted to the New World, but recent work on various Oligocene and early Miocene forms in Europe4 and North America5 indicate that the procyonids had a Holarctic distribution at that time. Regardless of its broader phylogenetic affinity, the presence of medial and late Miocene relatives of the lesser panda in Pakistan and western Europe (Sivanasua Pilgrim, 1931=Schlossericyon Crusafont, 1959)6 and their absence in the New World makes an Old World origin for this group highly likely. Thus the discovery of a single tooth in North America almost identical to European specimens of the extinct lesser panda Parailurus is unexpected, and must be explained by immigration from Asia.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Walker, E. P., Mammals of the World, 1187–1188 (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1964).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Kahlke, H. D., Vert. Palasiatica, 2, 83–108 (1961).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Davis, D. D., Fieldiana: Zool. Mem., 3, 1–339 (1964).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    de Beaumont, G., Arch. Sci. Geneve, 21, 213–224 (1968).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Hough, J. R., Bull. Am. Mus. nat. Hist., 92, 67–118 (1948).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Crusafont-Pairo, M., Ann. Paleont., 45, 125–140 (1959).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Repenning, C. A., in The Bering Land Bridge (edit. by Hopkins, D. M.), 288–311 (Stanford University Press, California, 1967).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Bjork, P. R., Trans. Am. phil. Soc., 60, 1–54 (1970).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Geist, V., Quat. Res., 1, 283–315 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Fry, W. J., and Gustafson, E. P., J. Paleont., 48, 375–386 (1974).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Robertson, J. S., Bull. Fla St. Mus., 20, 111–186 (1976).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Newton, E. T., Q. Jl geol. Soc., London, 451 (1890).

  13. 13

    Tobien, H., Z. Deutsch. geol. Ges., 104, 191 (1952).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Schlosser, M. Mitt. Jb. K. Ungar. Geol. Anst., 13, 67–86 (1899).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Berzi, A., Michaux, J., Hutchison, J. H., and Lindsay, E., Giorn. Geol., 35, 1–4 (1967).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Kormos, T., Mitt. Jb. K. Ungar. Geol. Anst., 30, 1–40 (1934).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Fejfar, O., Roz. Ustred. Ust. Geol., 30. 1–115 (1964).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Devjatkin, E. V., and Zazhigin, V. S., in Mesozoic and Cenozoic Faunas and Biostratigraphy of Mongolia 1, (edit. by Kramarenko, N. N.), 357–362 (Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1974). in Russian.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Darofeyev, P. I., Paleont. Zh., 124–134 (1966), in Russian, English Trans., Int. geol. Rev., 8, 1109–1117 (1966).

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Berggren, W. A., and Van Couvering, J., The Late Neogene …, 1–216 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1974).

  21. 21

    Evernden, J. F., Savage, D. E., Curtis, G. H., and James, G. T., Am. J. Sci., 262, 145–198 (1964).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Bout, P., Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecol., 8, 95–106 (1970).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

TEDFORD, R., GUSTAFSON, E. First North American record of the extinct panda Parailurus. Nature 265, 621–623 (1977).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing