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Cave and Asiatic lions

7 January 2016

 

www.leopard.tv

The lion Panthera leo is often known as the King of the Beasts of Africa but it is not limited in its distribution to Africa. Moreover, there once were larger and more mighty carnivores than lions in Africa which competed with ancient man for food.

www.leopard.tvThis competition and environmental factors later lead to the extinction of large carnivores such as the sabre-tooth cats, a hunting hyaena with long legs, giant bear-like dogs, a plant-eating bear and mongooses as large as a leopard.

The first lion-like cat developed in East Africa some 10.8 million years ago. From it the ancestor to the roaring cat genus Panthera developed which later gave rise to many species of cat. The African lion Panthera leo leo developed some 2.46 million years ago, also in East Africa, at a time when some of the forests which once covered most of Africa became replaced by open grasslands and bushveld as a result of climate change.

Lions probably moved from Africa to Europe and Asia when a land bridge developed between Africa, Europe and Asia some 800 000 to a million years ago, and the so-called cave or steppe lion Panthera leo spelaea developed from these lions some 600 000 years ago. Among others... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

References:

Anon 2013. Asiatic lion. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Asiatic_lion&oldid=567223575

Bagatharia, S B, M V Joshi, R V Pundya, A S Pardit, R D Patel, S M Desai, A Sharma, O Panchal, F P Jasman & A K Saxena 2013. Complete mitogenome of the Asiatic lion restores phylogenetic status within Panthera. BMC Genomics 14: 572.

Barnett, R, N Yamaguchi, I Barnes & A Cooper 2006. The origin, current diversity and future conservation of the modern lion (Panthera leo). Biological Science Proceedings, Royal Society 273: 2119 - 2125.

Turner, A 1997. The big cats and their fossil relatives: an illustrated guide to their evolution and natural history. New York: Columbia University Press.

Werdelin, L 2013. King of the beasts. Scientific American, November: 36 - 39.

Wozencraft, W C 2005. Order Carnivora. In D E Wilson & D M Reeder (Eds), Mammal species of the world, third edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp 546 - 547.

article by Prof J du P Bothma

 

 

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