Tigers

Kasey Ford

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Current Habitat.

"Most Tigers live in Asia, specifically throughout Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Russia. Tigers like to live in swamps, grasslands,and rain forests. Usually where Tigers live there are trees, bushes, and clumps of tall grass." It shades the Tiger from the sun when it's extremely hot. Not only does this protect them from the sun, it also helps them to camouflage with their surroundings and surprise their prey. "Unlike other cats, Tigers love the water and are very sensitive to heat. Tigers are very powerful swimmers. Most Tigers will soak in water usually after making a kill. Tigers are most likely found eating grass or other animals such as deer, buffalo, wild cattle and wild boars, also from time to time they will eat fish and crabs."

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What makes Tigers succsseful in their habitat.

"Although the tiger is a versatile species that can thrive in an extremely wide variety of natural habitats, these need to be fairly intact and relatively undisturbed, with an abundant supply of large-sized prey animals." A forest that is full of only langur monkeys or mongooses cannot support viable tiger populations.

One of the primary reasons why large areas of forest in India no longer have tigers is because local people have hunted and eaten away most of the prey animals." So, while the direct poaching of tigers is contributing to their rapid decline now, it is the steady erosion of the tiger’s prey base that has resulted in low numbers of tigers to start with." Even today, reserves with a super abundance of prey produce surplus tigers. In these areas, even if a few tigers get killed every year by poaching or other factors, the tiger population can withstand these pressures and remain stable. But wipe out the prey, and there’s no chance of recovery.

In order to get its quota of roughly 50 large-sized prey animals a year, a tiger needs a ‘food bank’ comprising a breeding prey population of at least 500 animals that produce a surplus for the tiger to eat each year. If the prey animal population dips below this optimum level, the tiger will be forced to eat away it’s ‘capital’, and will not be able to survive for long or be able to raise cubs successfully

Common Ancestors/ Fossil Record

"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."

I have always believed that tigers great ancestors were Sabortooth.

Morphology

"To my admittedly biased eye, tigers are perfect. Lithe and massively muscled, they are a natural wonder, a faultless embodiment of power and beauty. They are largest of the living cats; an average Bengal Tiger is about 3 metres from the lip of the nose to the end of the tail. Adult males weigh 200 – 260 kg (440 – 570 lb). Adult females are slightly smaller and lighter, weighing 100 – 160 kg (220 – 350 lb). Tigers from Sumatra and other Indonesian islands are or were smaller, darker and with shorter hair than tigers from more northern areas. Adult males in tropical areas average 2.2 to 2.5 metres in total length (nose to tip of tail), which is about a half meter shorter than males from northern areas, and weigh only 100 to 140 kg. Adult females in tropical areas weigh 75 to 110 kg, or roughly as much as a large leopard (Panthera pardus) or Jaguar (Panthera onca). Surprisingly, while Siberian or Amur Tigers have long been thought to be the largest of the subspecies, measurements of tigers from the Russian Far East show they are currently no larger than the Bengal tigers of the Indian Subcontinent.

Variation in the body sizes of tigers and other morphological characteristics follows a gradient, rather than being discrete to subspecies. Nevertheless, the smaller body size of tigers from southern latitudes is likely to be due to an adaptation to the higher temperatures where heat must be dissipated, as well as a way to reduce energy needs in an environment where large ungulate prey are not readily available. Tigers in northern latitudes are larger cats and often deal with seasonally high temperatures by spending most of the daytime hours lounging half-submerged in shaded pools and streams."

"The tiger’s coat pattern of black stripes against a dark gold background looks very conspicuous in a cage. In the wild, however, in semi-open habitats, the striped coat seems to break up the body outline, and the cat almost fades from view. Similarly, its dark, golden orange coat looks as if it would stand out like a beacon against a background of tropical green, but it blends into the forest patterns of sunlight and shadow, perfect camouflage for this large stalking predator.

Physically, tigers are powerful, burly animals, well equipped to single-handedly capture and subdue prey at least five times their own weight. The skull is large and foreshortened, which increases the bite strength on a formidable set of canine teeth. An analysis of sexual dimorphism in the skull of tigers found that the greatest divergence occurred in the area involving the predatory function, specifically around the muzzle; as well as with the width of the zygomatic arches (bones on the side of the skull below the orbits); the size of the sagittal crest (crest on top of the skull); and the lambdoidal crest (at the back of the skull). These characteristics are more robust in males, suggesting that males may take larger prey than females. a short, thick neck, broad shoulders, and massive forelimbs are ideal for grappling with prey while holding onto it with the long, retractile claws on the broad forepaws."

"The tiger’s lithe body, flexible spine, and well-muscled hind limbs all combine to give it quickness, agility and power. Tigers are not runners, and rarely pursue prey more than 150 meters, but rather than rely on explosive acceleration. Like other cats, tigers are digitigrade, that is, they walk on their toes. The soft toe pads distribute the weight over the balls of the feet, giving tigers not only a fluid walking motion, but also a silent one."

White Bengal Tiger

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