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The tiger's closest living relatives were previously thought to be the lion, leopard and jaguar, all of

which are classified under the genus Panthera. Genetic analysis indicates that the tiger and
the snow leopard diverged from the other Panthera species about 2.88 million years ago, and that
both species may be more closely related to each other than to the lion, leopard and jaguar.[12][13]

The oldest remains of an extinct tiger relative, called Panthera zdanskyi or the Longdan tiger, have
been found in the Gansu province of northwestern China. This species is considered to be a sister
taxon to the extant tiger and lived about 2 million years ago, at the beginning of the Pleistocene. It
was smaller than the modern tiger, being the size of a jaguar, and probably did not have the same
coat pattern. Despite being considered more "primitive", the Longdan tiger was functionally and
possibly ecologically similar to its modern cousin. As Panthera zdanskyi lived in northwestern China,
that may have been where the tiger lineage originated. Tigers grew in size, possibly in response
to adaptive radiations of prey species like deer and bovids which may have occurred in Southeast
Asia during the early Pleistocene.[14]