- With six subspecies still existing in their natural habitats, tigers hold the distinction of being the largest big cat on Earth.
- The Ngangdong tiger (Panthera tigris soloensis) was a subspecies of tiger that is no longer in existence.
- No complete fossils of the Ngandong tiger have been discovered.
Tigers are the largest big cats in the world, and currently, 6 subspecies remain in the wild. Three subspecies of tigers have gone extinct in the last 70 years, with more to come as their populations continue to decline. Unfortunately, all tiger species are endangered.
Their colors, size, and strength are why tigers are loved, and these majestic creatures have walked the earth for a few million years. Here you will learn about the largest and strongest tiger species ever to live, a monster of its time that lived thousands of years ago.
In any era of time, tigers are true apex predators and key animals in the habitats they live in. Long ago, tigers had to be very big to compete with the other large animals they lived with. Only known by a few fossils, the Ngangdong tiger is the largest and strongest tiger to ever grace the planet and went extinct thousands of years ago.
What is the Ngandong Tiger?
The Ngangdong tiger (Panthera tigris soloensis) is an extinct subspecies of tiger that lived around 195,000 years ago during the first half of the Pleistocene epoch. Sundaland, Indonesia, and other areas of Southeast Asia are the range this large cat once lived in. Fossil evidence is how we know about this tiger. Their name is in reference to Ngandong village, where their remains were found.
No complete fossils of the Ngandong tiger have been discovered. We know about this extinct tiger subspecies from only 7 fossil remains. At the time of their excavation, other fossils from the same time period were discovered in the same area. Fossils found where this tiger species was uncovered include that of Rhinoceros sondaicus, Tapirus indicus, Elephas hysudrindicus, and Stegodon trigonoocephalus. Early human fossils of the Homo erectus were also found in the area near the Ngandong tiger, and it is believed they fed on many of these animals.
Time Period of the Ngandong Tiger
The Pleistocene epoch is the time period in which the Ngandong tiger lived. Genetic research suggests this species became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era, but it is unknown why. Giant hyenas, large tapir, rhinos, serows, and the gigantic ape Gigantophithecus are just a few megafaunas living in Southeast Asia during the Pleistocene epoch.
Climate change is theorized as the reason the Ngandong tiger went extinct. Southeast Asia’s forests were abundant in the early Pleistocene until grasslands became more dominant. By the end of the Pleistocene period, the shifting climate from forests to grasslands, then back to rainforests, was one of the causes of the extinction of large megafauna. Early humans may also have played a role in the Ngandong tiger’s extinction.
Size and Appearance
The Ngangdong tiger is estimated to have reached a weight of 800+ lbs and stood around 3.9 feet tall. They had a length of 8.5 feet or 13.5 feet, including their tail. With their size, the Ngandong tiger is the largest tiger species to ever exist. It is larger than today’s species, like the Siberian or Bengal tiger.
Ngandong Tiger Compared to Modern Tigers
Tigers come in many sizes, but since the Ngandong tiger lived alongside other giants, it grew much larger. Tigers are sexually dimorphic, and like most other big cats, males grow to be much larger than females.
|Ngandong Tiger (P.t. soloensis)
|Extinct (died off 10,000 to 12,000 years ago)
|Bengal Tiger (P.t. tigris)
|7.9 to 10 ft.
|220 to 570 lbs
|Endangered (Less than 2,000 in the wild)
|Siberian Tiger (P.t. altaica)
|10 to 12 ft.
|242 to 660 lbs
|Endangered (~300 to 450 left in the wild)
|Sumatran Tiger (P.t. sumatrae)
|9 to 12 ft.
|180 to 300 lbs
|Critically Endangered (~400 to 600 left in the wild)
|Caspian Tiger (P.t. virgata)
|8 to 10 ft.
|375 to 530 lbs
|Extinct ( died off 70 years ago)
|Malayan Tiger (P.t. jacksoni)
|7.5 to 9.5 ft.
|220 to 260 lbs
|Critically Endangered (~Less than 150 left in the wild)
|Javan Tiger (P.t. sondaica)
|6.6 to 8.1 ft.
|165 to 311 lbs
|Extinct (died off between the 1950s to 1980s)
|Bali Tiger (P.t. balica)
|6.2 to 7.9 ft.
|143 to 220 lbs
|Extinct (died off the 1950s)
|South China Tiger (P.t. amoyensis)
|7.5 to 8.6 ft.
|220 to 386 lbs
|Critically Endangered (~Less than 20 in the wild)
Most tigers are on the verge of becoming extinct, and if not protected, they may end up like the ancient giant tiger that once lived. Poaching was originally one of the main reasons modern tigers have become extinct. The main problems that tigers face now are habitat loss, with an estimated 95% loss of their historical range.
Humans have destroyed tigers’ habitats by building infrastructure and clearing forests. Some estimates have tigers becoming extinct within only a few decades. Maintaining the natural forests tigers live in are the only way to preserve them in the wild.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Ondrej Prosicky
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- Ngandong Tiger , Available here: https://prehistoric-fauna.com/Ngandong-tiger
- Megafauan exticion in Southeast Asia, Available here: http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/132/1328059508.pdf
- Panthera tigris soloensis , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panthera_tigris_soloensis