Most putative subspecies described in the 19th and 20th centuries were distinguished on basis of fur length and coloration, striping patterns and body size, hence characteristics that vary widely within populations. sondaica in the Greater Sunda Islands and possibly in Sundaland. In 2015, morphological, ecological and molecular traits of all putative tiger subspecies were analysed in a combined approach.
Morphologically, tigers from different regions vary little, and gene flow between populations in those regions is considered to have been possible during the Pleistocene. Results of craniological analysis of 111 tiger skulls from Southeast Asian range countries indicate that Sumatran tiger skulls differ from Indochinese and Javan tiger skulls, whereas Bali tiger skulls are similar in size to Javan tiger skulls. Results support distinction of the two evolutionary groups continental and Sunda tigers.
Over the past 100 years, they have lost 93% of their historic range, and have been extirpated from Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and from large areas of Southeast, Southern, and Eastern Asia.
One conservation specialist welcomed this proposal as it would make captive breeding programmes and future rewilding of zoo-born tigers easier. This population occurs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, foremost in alluvial grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub forests, wet and dry deciduous forests and mangrove habitats. The population inhabited forests and riverine corridors south and east of the Black and Caspian Seas, from Eastern Anatolia into Central Asia, along the coast of the Aral Sea and the southern shore of Lake Balkhash to the Altai Mountains.
One geneticist was sceptical of this study and maintained that the currently recognised nine subspecies can be distinguished genetically. Males have a head and body length of between 190 and 230 cm (75 and 91 in) and weigh between 180 and 306 kg (397 and 675 lb), while females average 160 to 180 cm (63 to 71 in) and 100 to 167 kg (220 to 368 lb). This population inhabits the Amur-Ussuri region of Primorsky Krai and Khabarovsk Krai in far eastern Siberia, with a small population in Hunchun National Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve in northeastern China near the border to North Korea.
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Males range in total length from 230–260 cm (91–102 in) and weigh between 130 to 180 kg (290 to 400 lb), while females range from 220–240 cm (87–94 in) and 100 to 110 kg (220 to 240 lb).
In Bali, tigers were hunted to extinction; the last Bali tiger, an adult female, is thought to have been killed at Sumbar Kima, West Bali, on 27 September 1937, though there were unconfirmed reports that villagers found a tiger corpse in 1963. Males range in total length from 220 to 255 cm (87 to 100 in) and weigh between 100 to 140 kg (220 to 310 lb), while females range between 215 to 230 cm (85 to 91 in) and 75 to 110 kg (165 to 243 lb).
Tigers are apex predators, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids.
They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements.
The original source may have been the Persian tigra meaning pointed or sharp and the Avestan tigrhi meaning an arrow, perhaps referring to the speed with which a tiger launches itself at its prey.
The validity of several tiger subspecies was questioned in 1999.
The derivation from Greek pan- ("all") and ther ("beast") may be folk etymology.