The feet of African lions allow them to move silently because large foot pads cushion the sound of their footfalls.
"The paws of a lion resemble those of most of the cat family. Cats and dogs walk in what is called the digitigrade position: the heel and instep are raised off the ground, making locomotion quieter and more versatile. The large pads on the ball of the foot and on the toes provide a cushion when walking and also help silence the feet. The lion has retractile claws -- it can retract them while at rest or when walking, so that they do not catch in the ground and reduce his speed." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:177)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.