American lion

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American lion
Temporal range: Pleistocene
0.34–0.011 mya
Panthera atrox.jpg
Skeleton from the La Brea tar pits at the George C. Page Museum
Scientific classification
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Disputed; P. leo or P. atrox

The American lion (Panthera leo or P. atrox) is also known as Naegele’s giant jaguar or American cave lion. It is an extinct species of lion which lived in North America during the Pleistocene (340,000 years ago to 11,000 years ago). It existed for about 330,000 thousand years.[1]

The American lion belonged to the family Felidae. By analysing the species' genes, scientists have shown that it shared the same ancestor as the Eurasian cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea or P. spelaea).[2] Most remains have come from the La Brea tar pits.

The American lion was large, slightly larger than the early middle Pleistocene cave lion, P. leo fossilis and about 25% larger than the modern African lion.[3] There is no evidence that it was a social hunter like the modern lion, and that may explain its size. Panthera leo atrox hunted large mammals such as horses, camels, bison and mammoth.

References[change | change source]

  1. Strauss, Bob 2016 update. "American Lion (Panthera leo atrox)". About.Com Dinosaurs. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2012-03-10. External link in |work= (help)
  2. R. Barnett, and others (2009). "Phylogeography of lions (Panthera leo ssp.) reveals three distinct taxa and a late Pleistocene reduction in genetic diversity". Molecular Ecology 18 (8): 1668–1677. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04134.x. PMID 19302360. 
  3. Deméré, Tom 2009. SDNHM Fossil Field Guide: Panthera atrox