The commonly used word panther is derived from the Latin word panthera which is a genus name of the animal subfamily Felinae (the cats) in taxonomy. The genus panthera contains four well-known living species: lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards. Only these four cat species have the anatomical changes or morphological features enabling them to roar. Some people also include snow leopards in the panthera group, but they can not roar.
Black panther is not a distinct species but just a common name for a black specimen (melanistic variant) of several species of cats belong to the genus panthera. Melanism occurs because of a mutation or abnormality of one of the cat genes associated with coat coloration and markings. Melanism is hereditary, but it is not necessarily passed directly from one generation to the next. Melanism is most common in the leopard and jaguar. There are occasional reports about a black variant in other species of cats within the panthera group, but none of them has been confirmed to produce an all-black variant of cats. The darkest confirmed tigers (some call them black tigers) still have orange stripes. Therefore black leopard and black jaguar are the only two legitimate types of black panther scientifically recognized in the genus panthera group.
Scientists classify the biological world into a series of categories beginning with the broadest and ending with the most specific. This classification system is called taxonomy. Here is a taxonomy chart for the panthera family:
Species Pardus (Leopard)