The lion (Panthera leo) is the second-largest cat in the Felidae family. Initially, Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Felis leo to the lion in his work “Systema Naturae”. However, it was changed to its present-day iteration by Lorenz Oken, a German naturalist, in 1816. There is only one species of lion. However, there are many subspecies – with 2 being officially recognized:
- Panthera leo leo (the African lion)
- Panthera leo persica (the Asiatic lion)
Lions are quite large, with the males weighing an average of 190 kgs. The now extinct Panthera atrox, also known as the American Cave Lion, was much larger – about 25% larger than the modern lion. This makes the American Cave Lion one of the largest recorded felids.
Lions have a very complex social hierarchy and are very territorial. For instance, when male lions reach sexual maturity by the age of 2, the older males drive them out of pride. The young males then roam solo, or in a small group which usually comprises other young male lions. They have to survive on their own and must stay clear of the other lion’s territorial area. Unfortunately, most male lions are usually attacked and killed during this stage; when they stray into the territory of other older male lions.
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