The Bengal tiger, or Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), is a tiger subspecies native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, and has been classified as endangered by IUCN as the population is estimated
Its coat is a 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, has dark brown or reddish brown stripes on a white background, and some are entirely white. Black tigers have tawny, yellow or white stripes on a black background color. The skin of a black tiger, recovered from smugglers, measured 259 cm (102 in) and was displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, in New Delhi. The existence of black tigers without stripes has been reported but not substantiated.
The total body length, including the tail, of males is 270 to 310 cm (110 to 120 in), while females are 240 to 265 cm (94 to 104 in). The tail measures 85 to 110 cm (33 to 43 in), and the height at the shoulder is 90 to 110 cm (35 to 43 in). The average weight of males is 221.2 kg (488 lb), while that of females is 139.7 kg (308 lb).
Male Bengal tigers from the northern Indian subcontinent are as large as Siberian tigers with a greatest length of skulls of 332 to 376 mm (13.1 to 14.8 in). In northern India and Nepal, males have an average weight of 235 kg (520 lb), and females 140 kg (310 lb). Recent studies of body weights of the different tiger subspecies have shown that Bengal tigers are on average larger than Siberian tigers.
The Bengal tiger's roar can be heard for up to 3 km (1.9 mi) away.
A heavy male Bengal tiger weighing 258.6 kg (570 lb) was shot in Northern India in 1938. In 1980 and 1984, scientists captured and tagged two male tigers (M105 and M026) in Nepal that weighed more than 270 kg (600 lb). The largest known Bengal tiger was a male with a head and body length of 221 cm (87 in) measured between pegs, 150 cm (59 in) of chest girth, a shoulder height of 109 cm (43 in) and a tail of just 81 cm (32 in), perhaps bitten off by a rival male. This specimen could not be weighed, but it was calculated to weigh no less than 272 kg (600 lb). Finally, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest tiger known was a huge male hunted in 1967, that measured 322 cm (127 in) in total length between pegs (338 cm (133 in) over curves), and weighed 388.7 kg (857 lb). This specimen was hunted in northern India by David Hasinger and is on exhibition in the Mammals Hall of the Smithsonian Institution.
In the beginning of the 20th century, there were reports of big males measuring about 12 ft (3.7 m) 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.
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