Types of lions - Names and characteristics

The lion is at the top of the food chain. Its imposing size, the strength of its claws and jaws and its roar make it a difficult rival to beat in the ecosystems it inhabits. Despite this, there are some extinct lions and lions in danger of extinction..

Yes, there have been and exist several species of this huge feline. Thinking about it, in this AnimalWised article we will talk about the types of lions and we will share a complete list with characteristics of each of them. ¡Keep reading!

You may also be interested in: Sea lions and wolves - Characteristics, names and photos Index
  1. How many types of lions are there in the world?
  2. Characteristics of lions
  3. Types of lions in danger of extinction
  4. Types of extinct lions
  5. Other subspecies of extinct lions

How many types of lions are there in the world?

Today, it survives a kind of lion (Panthera leo), from which they derive 7 subspecies, although there have been many more. Some species have been extinct for thousands of years, while others have disappeared because of humans. In addition, all the species of lions that survive are in danger of extinction.

This number corresponds to the lions belonging to the feline family, but ¿did you know that they also exist types of sea lions? ¡So is! As for this marine animal, there are 7 genres with various species.

Now that you know how many types of lions there are in the world, we invite you to know them. ¡Let's go there!

Characteristics of lions

To start this complete list with characteristics, we talk about the lion as a species. Panthera leo is the species from which the various lion subspecies are descended. Actually, the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) only recognizes this species and designates Panthera leo persica and Panthera leo leo as the only subspecies. However, other taxonomic lists, such as ITIS, identify more varieties.

The lion live in herds and inhabits the grasslands, savannas and jungles of Africa. These prides are generally made up of one or two male lions and several females. He lives an average of 7 years and is considered the "king of the jungle " due to his fury and great hunting ability. In this sense, it should be noted that it is a carnivorous animal that can feed on antelope, zebra, etc., and that it is the females in charge of hunting and keeping the herd well fed. For more details, see the following article: "The feeding of the lion ".

Another of the most remarkable characteristics of lions is their marking sexual dimorphism. Males tend to be larger than females and have an abundant mane, while females have all their short and uniform fur..

Types of lions and their characteristics

The lion subspecies that currently exist and are recognized by the different official organizations are:

  • Katanga Lion
  • Congo lion
  • Transvaal Lion
  • Atlas Lion
  • Nubian lion
  • Asiatic lion
  • West African Lion

Let's see below the characteristics of each type of lion.

1. Lion of Katanga

Among the types of lions and their characteristics, the Katanga or Angolan lion (Panthera leo bleyenberghi) is distributed in the southern Africa. It is a large subspecies, capable of reaching up to 280 kilos in males, although the average is 200 kilos.

As for its appearance, it highlights the characteristic sand color and a thick and imposing mane. The outermost area of ​​the mane can appear in a combination of light brown with brown.

2. Lion of the Congo

The Congo lion (Panthera leo azandica), also called Central African lion, It is a subspecies that is distributed in the plains of the African continent, especially in Uganda and the Republic of the Congo.

It is characterized by measuring between 2 meters and 50 centimeters and 2 meters 80 centimeters. In addition, it weighs between 150 and 190 kilos. The males have the characteristic mane, although less bushy than other varieties of lion. The color of the coat goes from characteristic sand to dark brown.

3. Lion Transvaal

The Panthera leo krugeri, called from Transvaal, from South Africa or African lion, It is a variety from southern Africa, sister to the Katanga lion, although it exceeds it in size. The males of this species reach up to 2 meters and 50 centimeters long.

Although they have the typical sand color in the coat, this variety comes from the rare White Lion. The white lion is a mutation of the krugeri, so that the white fur appears as a result of a recessive gene. Despite their beauty, they are vulnerable in the wild, as the light color is difficult to camouflage in the savannah.

4. Lion of Atlas

Also called the Barberian lion (Panthera leo leo), it is a subspecies that it became extinct in freedom around 1942. It is suspected that there are several specimens in zoos, such as the specimens found in Rabat (Morocco). However, crossbreeding with other lion subspecies complicates the task of breeding pure individuals of the Atlas lion..

According to the records that are had, this subspecies would be one of the largest, characterized by a large and bushy mane. He lived both in the savannas and in the African jungles.

5. Nubian lion

Another of the types of lions that still exist is the Panthera leo nubica, a variety that inhabits East Africa. Its body weight is between the average of the species, that is to say, between 150 and 200 kilos. The male of this subspecies has an abundant mane, darker on the outside.

A curious fact about this species is that it is one of the felines used for the famous logo of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was a Nubian lion.

6. Asiatic lion

The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) is native to Africa, although today it can be found in zoos and reserves in various parts of the world.

This variety is smaller than other types of lions and has a lighter coat, with reddish mane in males. Currently, it is among the types of lions in danger of extinction due to the reduction of their habitat, poaching and rivalry with the inhabitants of the areas in which they live.

7. West African lion

The last in this list of lion types and their characteristics is the Panthera leo senegalensis or West African lion. Live in packs and measures about 3 meters, including the tail.

This variety is in danger of extinction due to poaching and the expansion of cities, which reduces the amount of available prey.

Types of lions in danger of extinction

All types of lions are in danger of extinction, some in more critical condition than others. Over the years, populations in the wild have declined and even births in captivity are rare.

Between the reasons that threaten the lion and its subspecies are:

  • Expansion of commercial and residential areas that reduce the lion's natural habitat.
  • Decrease in the species that feed the lion.
  • Introduction of other species or rivalry with other predators for prey.
  • Poaching.
  • Expansion of agriculture and livestock.
  • War and military conflicts in the lion's habitat.

This comprehensive list with characteristics also includes those species that have disappeared. Next, meet the extinct lions.

Types of extinct lions

Unfortunately, several species of lions have ceased to exist for various reasons, some due to human action. These are the types of extinct lions:

  • Black lion
  • Cave lion
  • Primitive cave lion
  • American lion

1. Black lion

The Panthera leo melanochaitus, called black or cape lion, is a subspecies declared extinct in 1860. Before disappearing, it inhabited southwestern South Africa. Although little is known about him, he weighed between 150 and 250 kilos and I lived alone, contrary to the common pride of lions.

The males had a black mane that gave them their name. They disappeared from the African continent during the English colonization, as they became a threat by frequently attacking human populations. Despite their extinction, the lions of the Kalahari region are considered to have a genetic load from this species.

2. Cave lion

The Panthera leo spelaea was a species that was found in the Iberian Peninsula, England and Alaska. Inhabited the Earth during the Pleistocene, 2.60 million years ago. There is evidence of its existence thanks to cave paintings from 30,000 years ago and the fossils found.

In general, its characteristics were similar to those of the current lion: between 2.5 and 3 meters long, and 200 kilos in weight.

3. Primitive cave lion

The primitive cave lion (Panthera leo fossilis) is another type of extinct lion that became extinct in the Pleistocene. It reached up to 2.50 meters long and lived in Europe. It is one of the oldest extinct feline fossils ever found.

4. American lion

Panthera leo atrox was distributed throughout North America, where it is possible that it arrived through the Bering Strait before the drift of the continents occurred. Maybe it was the largest lion species history, as it is believed that it measured almost 4 meters and weighed between 350 and 400 kilos.

According to cave paintings found, this subspecies lacked mane or it was very scarce. It disappeared during the massive extinction of the megafauna, which occurred in the Quaternary.

Other subspecies of extinct lions

These are other varieties of lions that are also extinct:

  • Beringia lion (Panthera leo vereshchagini)
  • Sri Lankan lion (Panthera leo sinhaleyus)
  • European lion (Panthera leo europaea)

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