The Bengal tiger, or Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris or Panthera tigris bengalensis), is a subspecies of tiger primarily found in India and Bangladesh. They are also found in parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern Tibet. The Bengal tiger is the most numerous of the tiger sub-species. According to WWF there are about 2,000 Royal Bengal tigers in the wild today, including 1,411 in India, 450 in Bangladesh, 150 in Nepal, 100 in Bhutan, as well as a number in Myanmar and China.

The Bengal tiger is historically regarded as the second largest subspecies after the Siberian tiger. The Bengal subspecies P. tigris tigris is the national animal of Bangladesh, while at the species level, the tiger Panthera tigris is the national animal of India.

Biology and behaviour Edit

Physical characteristicsEdit

Previously it was considered the second largest subspecies, behind the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), however a recent study suggests that maybe this subspecies could be, on average, the largest of the tigers. The total length for the males is of 270-310 cm meanwhile those of the females is of 240–265 cm; the tail measures 85–110 cm long and the height at the shoulder is 90–110 cm. The average weight is 221.2 kg (487.7 lb.) for the males and 139.7 kg (308 lb.) for the females, however those who inhabit the north of India and Nepal have an average weight of 235 kg (518 lb.) for the males and 140 kg (308.6 lb.) for the females. Its coat is yellow to light orange, and the stripes range from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings. A mutation of the Bengal subspecies, the white tiger have dark brown or reddish brown stripes on a white background color, and some are entirely white. Black tigers have tawny, yellow or white stripes on a black background color. The pelage of a black tiger, recovered from smugglers, measured 259 cm and was displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi. The existence of black tigers without stripes has been reported but not substantiated.

The Bengal tiger's roar can be heard for up to three kilometers (almost two miles) away.

Tiger records Edit

Officially, the heaviest Bengal tiger with confirmed weight was a male of 258.6 kg (570 lbs) and was shot in Northern India in 1938, however, the heaviest male captured by a scientist at this time is a male of more than 270 kg (600 lb), tagged in Nepal in 1984.The largest known Bengal tiger, measured between pegs, was a male with a head and body length of 221 cm, 150 cm of chest girth, a shoulder height of 109 cm and a tail of just 81 cm, perhaps bitten off by a rival male. This specimen could not be weighed, but it was calculated to weigh no less than 270 kg. Finally, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest tiger known was a huge male hunted in 1967, it measured 322 cm in total length between pegs (338 cm over curves) and weighed 388.7 kg (857 lb.). This specimen was hunted in the north of India by David Hasinger and is actually on exhibition in the Smithsonian Institution, in the Mammals Hall.

In the beginning of the 20 century, there were reports of big males measuring about 366 cm (12 ft) in total length, however there was not scientific corroboration in the field and it is probable that this measurement was taken over the curves of the body.

Genetic ancestry Edit

The Bengal tigers are defined by three distinct mitochondrial nucleotide sites and 12 unique microsatellite alleles. The pattern of genetic variation in the Bengal tiger corresponds to the premise that these tigers arrived in India approximately 12,000 years ago. This recent history of tigers in the Indian subcontinent is consistent with the lack of tiger fossils from India prior to the late Pleistocene and the absence of tigers from Sri Lanka, which was separated from the subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene. However, a recent study of two independent fossil finds from Sri Lanka, one dated to approximately. 16,500 years ago, tentatively classifies them as being a tiger.

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