The lion life
The lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the family Felidae; it is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail.
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the lion inhabits grasslands and savannas but is absent in dense forests. It is usually more diurnal than other big cats, but when persecuted it adapts to being active at night and at twilight. In the Pleistocene, the lion ranged throughout Eurasia, Africa and North America but today it has been reduced to fragmented populations in Sub-Saharan Africa and one critically endangered population in western India. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996 because populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes for concern.
One of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture, the lion has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoological gardensacross the world since the late 18th century. Cultural depictions of lions were prominent in the Upper Paleolithic period; carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in France have been dated to 17,000 years ago, and depictions have occurred in virtually all ancient and medieval cultures that coincided with the lion's former and current ranges.
The lion is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears. Its fur varies in colour from light buff to silvery grey, yellowish red and dark brown. The colours of the underparts are generally lighter. When they are born, have dark spots on their bodies; these spots fade as the cubs reach adulthood, although faint spots often may still be seen on the legs and underparts. The lion is the only member of the cat family that displays obvious sexual dimorphism. Males are more robust than females; they have broader heads and a prominent mane that grows downwards and backwards to cover most of the head, neck, shoulders, and chest. The mane is typically brownish and tinged with yellow, rust and black hairs. The tail ends in a dark, hairy tuft that in some lions conceals an approximately 5 mm (0.20 in)-long, hard "spine" or "spur" that is formed from the final, fused sections of tail bone. The functions of the spur are unknown. The tuft is absent at birth and develops at around 5 1⁄2 months of age and is readily identifiable by the age of seven months.
Of the living felid species, the lion is rivaled only by the tiger in length, weight and height at the shoulder. Its skull is very similar to that of the tiger, although the frontal region is usually more depressed and flattened, and has a slightly shorter postorbital region and broader nasal openings than those of the tiger. Due to the amount of skull variation in the two species, usually only the structure of the lower jaw can be used as a reliable indicator of species. The size and weight of adult lions varies across global range and habitats. Accounts of a few individuals that were larger than average exist from Africa and India.[
A captive Asiatic male lion with a thick dark mane The lion's mane is the most recognisable feature of the species. It starts growing when lions are about a year old. Mane colour varies and darkens with age; research shows its colour and size are influenced by environmental factors such as average ambient temperature. Mane length apparently signals fighting success in male–male relationships; darker-maned individuals may have longer reproductive lives and higher offspring survival, although they suffer in the hottest months of the year. The presence, absence, colour and size of the mane are associated with genetic precondition, sexual maturity, climate and testosterone production; the rule of thumb is that a darker, fuller mane indicates a healthier animal. In Serengeti National Park, female lions favour males with dense, dark manes as mates. The main purpose of the mane is thought be the protection of the neck and throat in territorial fights with rivals. Cool ambient temperature in European and North American zoos may result in a heavier mane. Asiatic lions usually have sparser manes than average African lions.
Almost all male lions in Pendjari National Parkare either maneless or have very short manes. Maneless lions have also been reported in Senegal, in Sudan's Dinder National Park and in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. The original male white lion from Timbavati was also maneless. The hormone testosterone has been linked to mane growth; castrated lions often have little to no mane because the removal of the gonads inhibits testosterone production. Increased testosterone may be the cause of maned lionesses reported in northern Botswana.
Cave paintings of extinct European cave lionsalmost exclusively show hunting animals without a mane; some suggest that this is evidence they were indeed maneless.Because the hunting usually involved groups of lionesses, however, this presumption remains unproven. In the Chauvet Cave is a sketchy drawing of two maneless lions. One lion is mostly obscured by the other. The lion's mane may have evolved around 320,000–190,000 years ago.