3d art render of a larg male african lion.
Made with bryce 3d, some post work in photoshop.
The Lion (Panthera leo) is one of four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight,4 it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia with a critically endangered remnant population in northwest India, having disappeared from North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, which was about 10,000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. They were found in most of Africa, much of Eurasia from western Europe to India, and in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru.
Lions live for around 10–14 years in the wild, while in captivity they can live over 20 years. In the wild, males seldom live longer than ten years, as injuries sustained from continuous fighting with rival males greatly reduces their longevity.5 They typically inhabit savanna and grassland, although they may take to bush and forest. Lions are unusually social compared to other cats. A pride of lions consists of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates. Lions are apex and keystone predators, although they will scavenge if the opportunity arises. While lions do not typically hunt humans selectively, some have been known to become man-eaters and seek human prey.
The lion is a vulnerable species, having seen a possibly irreversible population decline of 30 to 50 percent over the past two decades in its African range.6 Lion populations are untenable outside of designated reserves and national parks. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are currently the greatest causes of concern. Lions have been kept in menageries since Roman times and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos the world over since the late eighteenth century. Zoos are cooperating worldwide in breeding programs for the endangered Asiatic subspecies.
Visually, the male lion is highly distinctive and is easily recognized by its mane. The lion, particularly the face of the male, is one of the most widely recognized animal symbols in human culture. Depictions have existed from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves, through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they historically occurred. It has been extensively depicted in literature, in sculptures, in paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature.
Skull of a modern lion at Kruger National ParkThe lion is the tallest (at the shoulder) of the felines, and also is the second-heaviest feline after the tiger. With powerful legs, a strong jaw, and 8 cm (3.1 in) long canine teeth, the lion can bring down and kill large prey. The skull of the lion is very similar to that of the tiger, though the frontal region is usually more depressed and flattened, with a slightly shorter postorbital region. The lion’s skull has broader nasal openings than the tiger. However, 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. Lion coloration varies from light buff to yellowish, reddish, or dark ochraceous brown. The underparts are generally lighter and the tail tuft is black. Lion cubs are born with brown rosettes (spots) on their body, rather like those of a leopard. Although these fade as lions reach adulthood, faint spots often may still be seen on the legs and underparts, particularly on lionesses.
Lions are the only members of the cat family to display obvious sexual dimorphism—that is, males and females look distinctly different. They also have specialized roles that each gender plays in the pride. For instance, the lioness, the hunter, lacks the male’s thick cumbersome mane. It seems to impede the male’s ability to be camouflaged when stalking the prey and create overheating in chases. The color of the male’s mane varies from blond to black, generally becoming darker as the lion grows older.
During confrontations with others, the mane makes the lion look largerWeights for adult lions range between 150–250 kg (330–550 lb) for males and 120–182 kg (264–400 lb) for females. Nowell and Jackson report average weights of 181 kg for males and 126 kg for females; one male shot near Mount Kenya was weighed at 272 kg (600 lb). Lions tend to vary in size depending on their environment and area, resulting in a wide spread in recorded weights. For instance, lions in southern Africa tend to be about 5 percent heavier than those in East Africa, in general.
Head and body length is 170–250 cm (5 ft 7 in – 8 ft 2 in) in males and 140–175 cm (4 ft 7 in – 5 ft 9 in) in females; shoulder height is about 123 cm (4 ft) in males and 107 cm (3 ft 6 in) in females. The tail length is 90–105 cm (2 ft 11 in – 3 ft 5 in) in males and 70–100 cm in females (2 ft 4 in – 3 ft 3 in). The longest known lion was a black-maned male shot near Mucsso, southern Angola in October 1973; the heaviest known lion was a man-eater shot in 1936 just outside Hectorspruit in eastern Transvaal, South Africa and weighed 313 kg (690 lb). Lions in captivity tend to be larger than lions in the wild—the heaviest lion on record is a male at Colchester Zoo in England named Simba in 1970, which weighed 375 kg (826 lb).
The most distinctive characteristic shared by both females and males is that the tail ends in a hairy tuft. In some lions, the tuft conceals a hard “spine” or “spur”, approximately 5 mm long, formed of the final sections of tail bone fused together. The lion is the only felid to have a tufted tail—the function of the tuft and spine are unknown. Absent at birth, the tuft develops around 5½ months of age and is readily identifiable at 7 months.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia