The American Lion, or American Cave Lion, is a subspecies of extinct lion. It lived in North America during the Pleistocene.
The American lion (Panthera Spelæa Atrox), or North American lion, is an extinct subspecies of lion. It lived in North America during the Pleistocene.
American Lion Characteristics
- Common name: American lion, American cave lion, etc.
- Scientific name: Panthera spelæa atrox (synonyms: Felis (Leo) atrox, Panthera Leo atrox, Panthera Tigris atrox), which means “atrocious lion
- Author and date of description: Leidy, 1853
- Current relationship : modern lion
- Status : extinct
- Length : up to 3.50 meters in males
- Height (at withers) : up to 1.50 meters for males
- Weight : males : 235 Kg – females : 175 Kg
- Time period : from – 80 000 years to – 10 000 years approximately (Upper Pleistocene)
- Distribution : from Alaska to Mexico
- Habitat : grassy plains, tundras, wooded areas
American Lion Appearance
American lions were very similar to modern lions, but they were much larger. They had a tan to brown coat; according to some cave depictions of its European cousin, the American lion may have had some stripes, but far fewer than the tiger. It can also be assumed that it had a tuft of black hair at the end of its tail. The mane of this species was much less dense similar to the Cave Lions, but it was still darker with age.
American Lion Diet
The American lion feeds primarily on deer, bisons, mammoths, equidae, camelids (Camelops Hesternus), California tapir (Tapirus californicus) and other large herbivores.
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Habits of American Lion
American lions certainly lived in groups, like modern lions, but it is thought that they hunted alone or in pairs, unlike today’s lions, except on special occasions. This has been proven by the lions of Rancho La Brea (California) where the young had more worn teeth than modern young lions.
According to their anatomical structure, American lions were less agile than African lions, which can reach up to 48 km/h during their most powerful accelerations. They hunted slower but more robust animals, such as bison, but their strength and weight allowed them to bring down the prey to the ground, and probably killed it by biting its snout, like modern lions. They also attacked horses, deer and even young mammoths.
American Lion Habitat
They may have lived in caves or in cracks in rocks during the winter, hiding the opening with branches and dry grass to protect themselves from the cold, like Amur tigers which are adapted to the same climate. The shelter was not essential further south where the winter was less severe.
The American Lion and Man
Many lions have been found in the remains of human camps dating back to the Paleolithic period, suggesting that lions were hunted by humans (or sometimes vice versa). In Idaho, American lion remains have been found in the debris of a cave called Jaguar Cave; they are dated at 10,300 years old. Several other fossils prove that these lions were hunted by the first American Indians.