Evolution and systematics

The Leporidae is sometimes divided into subfamilies Pa-leolaginae (Pentalagus, Pronolagus, and Romerolagus) and Lep-orinae (remaining genera). There are 11 genera: 32 Lepus, true hares; 1 Oryctolagus, European rabbit; 17 Sylvilagus, cottontails; 1 Brachylagus, pygmy rabbit; 3 Pronolagus, red rock-hares; 1 Bunolagus, riverine rabbit; 1 Pentalagus, Amami rabbit; 1 Caprolagus, hispid hare; 1 Poelagus, Bunyoro rabbit; 2 Nesola-gus, striped rabbits; and 1 Romerolagus, volcano rabbit.

Early leporids were found in both the Old and New World before Lepus evolved, but had a probable origin in Asia. The Leporidae arose in the Pliocene and Lepus in the early Middle Pleistocene. Whereas Pentalagus, Pronolagus, and Romero-lagus are ancient forms, Lepus is a young expanding genus.

The monotypical genera in Leporidae are taxonomically distinct with the exception of Brachylagus, which sometimes is included in Sylvilagus. However, the Lepus genus is in a state of confusion regarding both phylogeny and number of species.

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