Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||440||Public Records:||54|
|Specimens with Sequences:||360||Public Species:||9|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||82||Public BINs:||3|
|Species With Barcodes:||10|
A tigon // or tiglon // is a hybrid cross between a male tiger (Panthera tigris) and a lioness (Panthera leo). Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. The tigon is not currently as common as the converse hybrid, the liger; however, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Gerard Iles wrote that he had been able to obtain three tigons, but he had never seen a liger.
The tigon's genome includes genetic components of both parents. Tigons can exhibit visible characteristics from both parents: they can have both spots from the mother (lions carry genes for spots—lion cubs are spotted and some adults retain faint markings) and stripes from the father. Any mane that a male tigon may have will appear shorter and less noticeable than a lion's mane and is closer in type to the ruff of a male tiger. It is a common misconception that tigons are smaller than lions or tigers. They do not exceed the size of their parent species because they inherit growth-inhibitory genes from the lioness mother, but they do not exhibit any kind of dwarfism or miniaturization; they often weigh around 180 kilograms (400 lb).
Guggisberg wrote that ligers and tigons were long thought to be sterile; in 1943, however, a fifteen-year-old hybrid between a lion and an "Island" tiger was successfully mated with a lion at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The female cub, although of delicate health, was raised to adulthood.
At the Alipore Zoo in India, a female tigon named Rudhrani, born in 1971, was successfully mated to an Asiatic Lion named Debabrata. The rare, second generation hybrid was called a litigon //. Rudhrani produced seven litigons in her lifetime. Some of these reached impressive sizes—a litigon named Cubanacan (died 1991) weighed at least 363 kilograms (800 lb), stood 1.32 metres (4.3 ft) at the shoulder, and was 3.5 metres (11 ft) in total length.
Reports also exist of the similar titigon //, resulting from the cross between a female tigon and a male tiger. Titigons resemble golden tigers but with less contrast in their markings. A female tigon born in 1978, named Noelle, shared an enclosure in the Shambala Preserve with a male Siberian Tiger called Anton, due to the keepers' belief that she was sterile. In 1983 Noelle produced a titigon named Nathaniel. As Nathaniel was three-quarters tiger, he had darker stripes than Noelle and vocalized more like a tiger, rather than with the mix of sounds used by his mother. Being only about quarter-lion, Nathaniel did not grow a mane. Nathaniel died of cancer at the age of eight or nine years. Noelle also developed cancer and died soon after.
- Liger. snopes.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-17.
- Questions about Animals. Gk12.iastate.edu. Retrieved on 2013-09-17.
- Liger. Basically the coolest animal ever. Bred for their skills in magic. iam.colum.edu
- Techné v6n3 – Patenting and Transgenic Organisms: A Philosophical Exploration. Scholar.lib.vt.edu. Retrieved on 2013-09-17.
- Guggisberg, C. A. W. (1975) Wild Cats of the World, Taplinger Pub., ISBN 0795001282
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2009)|
A leopon // is a hybrid resulting from the crossing of a male leopard with a lioness. The head of the animal is similar to that of a lion while the rest of the body carries similarities to leopards. These hybrids are produced in captivity and are unlikely to occur in the wild.
The first documented leopon was bred at Kolhapur, India in 1910. Its skin was sent to Reginald Innes Pocock by Walter Samuel Millard, the Secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society. It was a cross between a large leopard and a lioness. Two cubs were born, one of which died aged 2.5 months and the other was still living when Pocock described it in 1912. Pocock wrote that it was spotted like a leopard, but that the spots on its sides were smaller and closer set than those of an Indian leopard and were brown and indistinct like the fading spots of a juvenile lion. The spots on the head, spine, belly and legs were black and distinct. The tail was spotted on the topside and striped underneath and had a blackish tip with longer hairs. The underside was dirty white, the ears were fawn and had a broad black bar but did not have the white spot found in leopards. Pocock wrote that the closest he had previously seen to this type of hybrid was the lijagulep (Congolese Spotted Lion) bred in Chicago.
They have been bred in zoos in Japan, Germany, and Italy (the latter was a "reverse leopon" i.e. from a male lion and a leopardess). Karl Hagenbeck, who produced many different hybrids, recorded the birth of leopons at the Hamburg Tierpark in Germany, but none survived to maturity. A leopon skin and skull at the British Museum comes from the animal bred at Kolhapur Zoo in India and was donated by Lt. Col. F.W. Wodehouse of the Junior United Services sometime between 1920 and 1940.
The most successful leopon programme was at Koshien Hanshin Park in Nishinomiya City, Japan. A lioness called Sonoko was mated by a leopard called Kaneo. The lioness voluntarily assumed a position on her side to allow the much smaller leopard to mount her. A litter of 2 hybrids was born in 1959 and 3 more were born in 1962. In captivity, the normally solitary male leopard remained with the family (social behavior is sometimes seen in captive specimens of normally solitary big cats). The hybrids proved to be sterile and the last one died in 1985. However, later leopons have successfully fathered cubs with liguars, hybrids between a male lion and a female jaguar. The resulting animal is called a leoliguar. The programme of cross-breeding was popular with the public, but it was criticised in zoological and animal welfare circles.
Based on the data from the Japanese cats, leopons are larger than leopards and combine features from the leopard and lion. They have brown, rather than black, spots and tufted tails. They will climb like leopards and seem to enjoy water, also like the leopard. Male leopons may have sparse manes about 20 cm long.
P. L. Florio published a report "Birth of a Lion x Leopard Hybrid in Italy" in 1983 (this refers to the "reverse leopon" also known as a lipard or liard).
- R I Pocock: (letter), "The Field", 2 November 1912.
- P L Florio: "Birth of a Lion x Leopard Hybrid in Italy", International-Zoo-News, 1983; 30(2): 4-6
- Hiroyuki Doi & Barbara Reynolds, "The Story of Leopons", GP Putnams, 1967
- Hahn, Emily, "Animal Gardens", Doubleday, 1967
The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a tigress (Panthera tigris). Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. It is distinct from the similar hybrid tigon. It is the largest of all known extant felines.
Ligers enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions. Ligers exist only in captivity because the habitats of the parental species do not overlap in the wild. Historically, when the Asiatic Lion was prolific, the territories of lions and tigers did overlap and there are legends of ligers existing in the wild. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike tigons which tend to be about as large as a female tiger and is the cross between a male tiger and a lioness.[better source needed]
The history of ligers dates to at least the early 19th century in India. In 1798, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772–1844) made a colour plate of the offspring of a lion and a tiger.
In 1825, G. B. Whittaker made an engraving of liger cubs born in 1824. The parents and their three liger offspring are also depicted with their trainer in a 19th-century painting in the naïve style.
Two liger cubs born in 1837 were exhibited to King William IV and to his successor Queen Victoria. On 14 December 1900 and on 31 May 1901, Carl Hagenbeck wrote to zoologist James Cossar Ewart with details and photographs of ligers born at the Hagenbeck's Tierpark in Hamburg in 1897.
In Animal Life and the World of Nature (1902–1903), A.H. Bryden described Hagenbeck's "lion-tiger" hybrids:
It has remained for one of the most enterprising collectors and naturalists of our time, Mr. Carl Hagenbeck, not only to breed, but to bring successfully to a healthy maturity, specimens of this rare alliance between those two great and formidable felidae, the lion and tiger. The illustrations will indicate sufficiently how fortunate Mr. Hagenbeck has been in his efforts to produce these hybrids. The oldest and biggest of the animals shown is a hybrid born on the 11th May, 1897. This fine beast, now more than five years old, equals and even excels in his proportions a well-grown lion, measuring as he does from nose tip to tail 10 ft 2 inches in length, and standing only three inches less than 4 ft at the shoulder. A good big lion will weigh about 400 lb [...] the hybrid in question, weighing as it does no less than 467 lb, is certainly the superior of the most well-grown lions, whether wild-bred or born in a menagerie. This animal shows faint striping and mottling, and, in its characteristics, exhibits strong traces of both its parents. It has a somewhat lion-like head, and the tail is more like that of a lion than of a tiger. On the other hand, it has no trace of mane. It is a huge and very powerful beast.
In 1935, four ligers from two litters were reared in the Zoological Gardens of Bloemfontein, South Africa. Three of them, a male and two females, were still living in 1953. The male weighed 340 kg (750 lb) and stood a foot and a half (45 cm) taller than a full grown male lion at the shoulder.
Although ligers are more commonly found than tigons today, in At Home In The Zoo (1961), Gerald Iles wrote "For the record I must say that I have never seen a liger, a hybrid obtained by crossing a lion with a tigress. They seem to be even rarer than tigons."
The liger was mentioned in the popular 2004 movie, Napoleon Dynamite. In one scene, Napoleon draws a picture of a liger and when asked what it is he says "It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed... bred for its skills in magic." 
Size and growth
The liger is often believed to represent the largest known cat in the world. Males reach a total length of 3 to 3.5 m, meaning they are larger than large Siberian tiger males. Imprinted genes may be a factor contributing to huge liger size. These are genes that may or may not be expressed on the parent they are inherited from, and that occasionally play a role in issues of hybrid growth. For example, in some dog breed crosses, genes that are expressed only when maternally-inherited cause the young to grow larger than is typical for either parent breed. This growth is not seen in the paternal breeds, as such genes are normally "counteracted" by genes inherited from the female of the appropriate breed.
Other big cat hybrids can reach similar sizes; the litigon, a rare hybrid of a male lion and a female tigon, is roughly the same size as the liger, with a male named Cubanacan (at the Alipore Zoo in India) reaching 363 kg (800 lb). The extreme rarity of these second-generation hybrids may make it difficult to ascertain whether they are larger or smaller, on average, than the liger.
It is wrongly believed that ligers continue to grow throughout their lives due to hormonal issues. It may be that they simply grow far more during their growing years and take longer to reach their full adult size. Further growth in shoulder height and body length is not seen in ligers over 6 years old, same as both lions and tigers. Male ligers also have the same levels of testosterone on average as an adult male lion, yet are azoospermic in accordance with Haldane's rule. In addition, female ligers may also attain great size, weighing approximately 320 kg (705 lb) and reaching 3.05 m (10 ft) long on average, and are often fertile. In contrast, pumapards (hybrids between pumas and leopards) tend to exhibit dwarfism.
Hercules and Sinbad
Jungle Island, an interactive animal theme park in Miami, is home to a liger named Hercules, the largest non-obese liger, who is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest living cat on Earth, weighing over 410 kg (904 lb). Hercules was featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360, Inside Edition and in a Maxim article in 2005, when he was only three years old and already weighed 408.25 kg (900 lb). Hercules is healthy and is expected to live a long life. The cat's breeding is said to have been a complete accident. Sinbad, another liger, was shown on the National Geographic Channel. Sinbad was reportedly similar in weight to Hercules.
Shasta, a ligress (female liger) was born at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City on 14 May 1948 and died in 1972 at age 24. Valley of the Kings animal sanctuary in Wisconsin had a male liger named Nook who weighed around 550 kg (1,213 lb), and died in 2007, at 21 years old. Hobbs, a male liger at the Sierra Safari Zoo in Reno, Nevada, lived to almost 15 years of age before succumbing to liver failure and weighed in at 410 kilograms (900 lb). A liger lived for 17 years in Bloemfontein South Africa. This liger was born in 1943 and died in 1960. South Africa still has 2 ligers at its one zoo at Bloemfontein.
The fertility of hybrid big cat females is well documented across a number of different hybrids. This is in accordance with Haldane's rule: in hybrids of animals whose sex is determined by sex chromosomes, if one sex is absent, rare or sterile, it is the heterogametic sex (the one with two different sex chromosomes e.g. X and Y).
According to Wild Cats of the World (1975) by C. A. W. Guggisberg, ligers and tigons were long thought to be sterile: in 1943, a fifteen-year-old hybrid between a lion and an 'Island' tiger was successfully mated with a lion at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The female cub, though of delicate health, was raised to adulthood.
Ligers have a tiger-like striped pattern that is very faint upon a lionesque tawny background. In addition they may inherit rosettes from the lion parent (lion cubs are rosetted and some adults retain faint markings). These markings may be black, dark brown or sandy. The background colour may be correspondingly tawny, sandy or golden. In common with tigers, their underparts are pale. The actual pattern and colour depends on which subspecies the parents were and on how the genes interact in the offspring.
White tigers have been crossed with lions to produce "white" (actually pale golden) ligers. In theory, white tigers could be crossed with white lions to produce white, very pale or even stripeless ligers. There are no black ligers. Very few melanistic tigers have ever been recorded, most being due to excessive markings (pseudo-melanism or abundism) rather than true melanism; no reports of black lions have ever been substantiated. As blue or Maltese Tigers probably no longer exist, grey or blue ligers are exceedingly improbable. It is not impossible for a liger to be white, but it is very rare.
Breeding of ligers has been banned in many zoos and animal sanctuaries due to no conservation value of the hybrid, and the risk it poses on the tigress that gives birth to it. Keeping the two species separate has been standard procedure. However, ligers have occurred and do occur by accident in captivity. Several AZA zoos are reported to have ligers.
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- "The Liger - Liger Facts: Meet The World's Biggest Cat". Liger Facts. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Ligers messybeast.com Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Bryden, A.H. (contributor). "Animal Life and the World of Nature" (1902–1903, bound partwork).
- Iles, G. At Home In The Zoo (1961).
- IMDb: Quotes from Napoleon Dynamite
- Description of ligers at Bestiarium.kryptozoologie.net
- Description of ligers at Lairweb.org.nz
- Vratislav Mazák: Der Tiger. Westarp Wissenschaften; Auflage: 5 (April 2004), unveränd. Aufl. von 1983 ISBN 3-89432-759-6
- "Growth dysplasia in hybrid big cats". Retrieved 23 June 2006.
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (30 April 2000). "HHMI News: Gene Tug-of-War Leads to Distinct Species". Retrieved 23 June 2006.
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- "Jungle Island: Mammals". Retrieved 5 November 2008.
- "Liger: Recorded Ages of the Ligers". Ligerworld.com. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Guggisberg, C. A. W. "Wild Cats of the World." (1975).
- Katia Andreassi (21 September 2012). ""Liliger" Born in Russia No Boon for Big Cats". National Geographic.
- "What is a 'liger' — and why is it illegal?". August 2010.
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|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2014)|
The taliger is a hybrid cross between a male tiger (Panthera tigris) and a ligress (Panthera leo × Panthera tigris). The world's first taligers were born on August 16, 2007 at The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.
Although male tiglons and ligers are sterile, female hybrids can produce cubs. As with ligers - which are born without an epic gene - taligers also grow to a size which is fundamentally larger than that of their tiger and lion forebears. Large male grow up to 400 kg and 3,50 meters in length, while the female grow up to 250 kg and 2,95 meters in length. In a scientific document to be published by researchers at Texas A&M university, conclusive evidence suggests that ligers, taligers and tiglons are genetically and physically stronger than their forebears as well.
In the first litter of taligers, the sire - Kahun - was a white bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) and the dam - Beauty - was a liger. Five cubs were born to that litter - four male and one female - named Tanyaro, Yun Yi, Monique, and two others that were moved to other facilities.
On March 7, 2013, a second set of taliger cubs were again born at The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. In this event, the sire - Noha - was a siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) and the dam - Lizzy - was a liger. Three cubs were born to that litter.
- "Liger: Size and growth". Wikipedia. August 18, 2003. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
Panthera is a genus within the Felidae family that was named and first described by the German naturalist Oken in 1816. The British taxonomist Pocock revised the classification of this genus in 1916 as comprising the species tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard on the basis of cranial features. Results of genetic analysis indicate that the snow leopard also belongs to the Panthera, a classification that was accepted by IUCN assessors in 2008.
Only the tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar have the anatomical structure that enables them to roar. The primary reason for this was formerly assumed to be the incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone. However, new studies show the ability to roar is due to other morphological features, especially of the larynx. The snow leopard does not roar. Although it has an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone, it lacks the special morphology of the larynx.
The word panther derives from classical Latin panthēra, itself from the ancient Greek pánthēr (πάνθηρ) meaning "large spotted cat". The Greek word is likely a loan word, but the source language is unknown. It is likely related to the Sanskrit word pundarikam, meaning "tiger", probably literally "the yellowish animal", from pandarah "whitish-yellow". An incorrect folk etymology traces the word to the Greek pan- (πάν), meaning "all", and thēr (θήρ), meaning wild beast.
In Panthera species the dorsal profile of the skull is flattish or evenly convex. The frontal interorbital area is not noticeably elevated, and the area behind the elevation less steeply sloped. The basicranial axis is nearly horizontal. The inner chamber of the bullae is large, the outer small. The partition between them is close to the external auditory meatus. The convexly rounded chin is sloping.
Panthera probably evolved in Asia, but the roots of the genus remain unclear. Genetic studies indicate that pantherine cats diverged from the subfamily Felinae between six and ten million years ago. Fossil records point to the emergence of Panthera just 2.0 to 3.8 million years ago.
The snow leopard was initially seen at the base of Panthera, but newer molecular studies suggest that it is nestled within Panthera and is a sister species of the tiger. Many place the snow leopard within the genus Panthera, but there is currently no consensus as to whether the snow leopard should retain its own genus Uncia or be moved to Panthera uncia. Since 2008, the IUCN Red List lists it as Panthera uncia using Uncia uncia as a synonym.
Results of a mitogenomic study suggest the phylogeny can be represented as Neofelis nebulosa (Panthera tigris (Panthera onca (Panthera pardus, (Panthera leo, Panthera uncia)))). About Panthera separated from other felid species and then evolved into the several species of the genus. N. nebulosa appears to have diverged about , P. tigris about , P. uncia about and P. pardus about . Mitochondrial sequence data from fossils suggest that American lions (P. atrox) are a sister lineage to Eurasian cave lions (P. l. spelaea), diverging about .
The prehistoric cat Panthera onca gombaszogensis, often called European jaguar is probably closely related to the modern jaguar. The earliest evidence of the species was obtained at Olivola in Italy, and dates 1.6 million years.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, various explorers and staff of natural history museums suggested numerous subspecies, or at times called races, for all Panthera species. The taxonomist Pocock reviewed skins and skulls in the zoological collection of the Natural History Museum, London and grouped subspecies described, thus shortening the lists considerably. Since the mid 1980s, several Panthera species became subject of genetic research, mostly using blood samples of captive individuals. Study results indicate that many of the lion and leopard subspecies are questionable because of insufficient genetic distinction between them. Subsequently, it was proposed to group all African leopard populations to P. p. pardus and retain eight subspecific names for Asian leopard populations. Based on genetic research, it was suggested, to group all living sub-Saharan lion populations into P. l. leo. More recent genetic research, however, indicates that the Western and Central African lions form a different clade of lions and are perhaps more related to Asian lions than to lions from southern or eastern Africa. These populations have been largely ignored in previous studies. The black panther is not a distinct species, but is the common name for melanistic specimens of the genus, most often encountered in leopard and jaguar.
The genus Panthera comprises:
- Panthera tigris tiger
- Panthera tigris amoyensis South China tiger
- Panthera tigris sumatrae Sumatran tiger
- Panthera tigris tigris Bengal tiger
- Panthera tigris jacksoni Malayan tiger
- Panthera tigris corbetti Indochinese tiger
- Panthera tigris altaica Siberian tiger
- Panthera tigris virgata Caspian tiger †
- Panthera tigris balica Bali tiger †
- Panthera tigris sondaica Javan tiger †
- Panthera tigris acutidens †
- Panthera tigris trinilensis Trinil tiger †
- Panthera leo lion
- Panthera leo persica Asiatic lion
- Panthera leo leo African lion including:
- Panthera leo sinhaleyus Sri Lanka lion or Ceylon lion †
- Panthera leo spelaea Eurasian cave lion †
- Panthera leo fossilis Early Middle Pleistocene European cave lion †
- Panthera leo atrox American lion or North American cave lion †
- Panthera onca jaguar
- Panthera pardus leopard
- Panthera pardus pardus African leopard
- Panthera pardus orientalis Amur leopard
- Panthera pardus melas Javan leopard
- Panthera pardus nimr Arabian leopard
- Panthera pardus saxicolor Persian leopard, including P. p. tulliana Anatolian leopard
- Panthera pardus fusca Indian leopard
- Panthera pardus kotiya Sri Lanka leopard
- Panthera pardus delacouri Indochinese leopard
- Panthera pardus japonensis North China leopard
- Panthera pardus begoueni †
- Panthera pardus sickenbergi †
- Panthera pardus antiqua †
- Panthera pardus spelaea European Ice Age leopard †
- Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia Snow leopard
Taxonomic placing is uncertain for the extinct fossil Panthera species:
- Panthera blytheae - prehistoric relative of snow leopard
- Panthera crassidens – probably identical with another felid taxon
- Panthera palaeosinensis – Pleistocene pantherine, probably ancestral to the tiger
- Panthera schaubi - probably not a pantherine, but a relative of the cougar
- Panthera schreuderi – prehistoric cat, probably junior synonym of European jaguar
- Panthera toscana Tuscany lion or Tuscany jaguar – probably junior synonym of European jaguar
- Panthera youngi – a prehistoric Chinese lion-like cat
- Panthera zdanskyi - prehistoric relative of tiger
|External identifiers for Panthera|
|Encyclopedia of Life||14134|
|Also found in: Wikispecies|
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The first known hybrid, a female liliger named Kiara, was born at the Novosibirsk Zoo in Russia, in September 2012. Kiara was born to 8-year-old female liger Zita and male African lion Samson. Male tigons and ligers are sterile, but female hybrids can produce cubs. On May 16, 2013 the same couple produced three more female liligers: Luna, Sandra, and Eva A Liliger was born in the United States from a male Lion named Simba and a female Liger named Akara at 6:18am on November 29, 2013 at the The Oklahoma Zoo. At approximately 3am on November 30, 2013, the Ligress gave birth to two more cubs.
Craig Packer, director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota has said "In terms of conservation, it's so far away from anything, it's kind of pointless to even say it's irrelevant". The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the organization responsible for accrediting zoos in North America, neither approves of nor breeds the animals as they focus on the conservation of wildlife and programs serving that purpose.
- The Moscow Times. "Rare 'Liliger' Born to Lion, Liger Couple". Retrieved 11 September 2012.
- BBC News. "Siberian zoo breeds the world's first Liliger". Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- "Уникальное пополнение коллекции Новосибирского зоопарка" [A unique complement to the collection of the Novosibirsk Zoo] (in Russian). Novosibirsk Zoo. September 10, 2012..
- "Лигрица Зита во второй раз стала мамой" [Ligritsa Zita for the second time became a mother] (in Russian). Novosibirsk Zoo. 16 June 2013.
- "how Russian liger gave birth to four liligers" [Liger Queen]. Russia Beyond the headlines. 22 July 2013.
- ""Liliger" Born in Russia No Boon for Big Cats" [Unnatural mix-and-match felines have no conservation purpose, experts say.]. National Geographic. 21 September 2012.
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The Masai lion or East African lion (Panthera leo nubica) is a lion subspecies that is found in eastern Africa. The type specimen is described as being from "Nubia". The subspecies includes previously recognized subspecies like massaica, which was initially described from the Tanganyika Territory in Eastern Africa.
Neumann first described the Masai lion as being less cobby with longer legs and less curved backs than other lion subspecies. Males have moderate tufts of hair on the knee joint, and their manes are not full but look like combed backwards.
Male East African lions are generally 2.5–3.0 metres (8.2–9.8 feet) long including the tail. Lionesses are generally smaller, at only 2.3–2.6 metres (7.5–8.5 feet). In weight, males are generally 145–205 kg (320–450 pounds), and females are 100–165 kg (220–360 pounds). Lions, male or female, have a shoulder height of 0.9–1.10 metres (3.0–3.6 feet).
Male Masai lions are known for a great range of mane types. Mane development is related to age: older males have more extensive manes than younger ones; manes continue to grow up to the age of four to five years, long after lions have become sexually mature. Males living in the highlands above 800 m (2,600 ft) altitude develop heavier manes than lions in the more humid and warmer lowlands of eastern and northern Kenya. They have scanty manes or are even completely maneless.
Lions in the Serengeti highlands have often very big manes
Lions mating at Masai Mara
Mature male lion in Amboseli National Park with intermediate mane development
Lion in the Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Distribution and habitat
Masai lions were first described on the basis of observations in northern Uganda, near Kavirondo and in southern Kenya, as well as near Lake Manyara, around Mount Kilimanjaro and in the Tanga Region.
The German zoologist Neumann observed lions in Eastern Africa, and proposed the trinomen Felis leo massaica in 1900 based on morphological differences compared with lions from Somalia. His type specimens consist of one male killed near Kibaya, and one female killed at the Gurui River. A decade later, the Swedish zoologist Lönnberg described two lion specimen from the environs of Mount Kilimanjaro under the name of Felis leo sabakiensis that were killed during a Swedish zoological expedition to East Africa. In 1914, the American zoologist Heller described the Abyssinian lion under the name Felis leo roosevelti on the basis of a male lion presented to President Roosevelt allegedly from the vicinity of Addis Abeba. In 1939, the American zoologist Allen recognized the trinomen Felis leo massaica as valid, and subordinated F. l. sabakiensis and F. l. roosevelti to this subspecies.
Pocock subordinated lions to the genus Panthera in 1930 when he wrote about Asian lions. Ellerman and Morrison-Scott recognized just two lion subspecies, namely the Asiatic P. l. persica and the African P. l. leo, known as the Barbary lion at the time. Various authors recognized between seven and 10 African lion subspecies. Until 2005, some authors considered P. l. massaica as a valid taxon; some considered it synonymous with P. l. nubica described by Blainville in 1843 from Nubia.
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