Relaxed phylogenetics and dating with confidence plos biology
Females cooperate when hunting and prey mostly on large ungulates. In the Pleistocene, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal and ranged from Southern Africa to Northern Europe, across all of Asia and North America to Peru.Male lions are easily recognized by their manes, and the male's face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture.From this lion derived the later cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea), which appeared about 300,000 years ago.Lions died out in northern Eurasia at the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago; this may have been secondary to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna.Nonetheless, they might carry genes that are extinct in the wild, and might be therefore important to maintain overall genetic variability of the lion. In North Africa, lions are regionally extinct in the wild due to excessive hunting; the last known Barbary lion was killed in Morocco in 1942.In 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group assigned the lion populations in Asia and West, Central and North Africa to P. Small groups of lions may have survived until the 1960s.
Prides vary in size and composition from three to 20 adult lions, depending on habitat and prey availability.The lion typically inhabits grasslands and savannahs, but is absent in dense forest.It is usually more diurnal than other big cats, but when persecuted adapts to being active at night and at twilight.Results of another phylogeographic study indicate that southeastern Ethiopia, western Somalia and northern Kenya are genetic admixture regions between lions from Central Africa and Southern Africa, and that lions in the northern part of Central Africa are genetically closer to lions in North and West Africa, and those in the southern part closer to lions in Southern Africa.Based on morphology of 58 lion skulls in three European museums, the subspecies krugeri, nubica, persica, and senegalensis were assessed distinct; but bleyenberghi overlapped with senegalensis and krugeri. While the subspecific status of the Asiatic lion (P. persica) is generally accepted, the systematic relationships among African lions are still not completely resolved.