It may have evolved around 320,000–190,000 years ago. The infirmity theory, including tooth decay, is not favoured by all researchers; an analysis of teeth and jaws of man-eating lions in museum collections suggests that while tooth decay may explain some incidents, prey depletion in human-dominated areas is a more likely cause of lion predation on humans.  However, there are a few reported cases of old and wounded lions falling prey to wild dogs.  The modern lion was probably widely distributed in Africa during the Middle Pleistocene and started to diverge in sub-Saharan Africa during the Late Pleistocene. , Lions imported to Europe before the middle of the 19th century were possibly foremost Barbary lions from North Africa, or Cape lions from Southern Africa.  Crocodiles may also kill and eat lions, evidenced by the occasional lion claw found in crocodile stomachs. 118.37–143.52 kg (261.0–316.4 lb) in Southern Africa.  In more heavily forested areas where lions were rare, the leopard represented the top of the hierarchy. , Indo-Persian chroniclers regarded the lion as keeper of order in the realm of animals.  The male or males associated with the pride must defend their relationship with the pride from outside males who may attempt to usurp them. Male Asiatic lions are solitary or associate with up to three males, forming a loose pride while females associate with up to 12 other females, forming a stronger pride together with their cubs. , The lion is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears.  They usually avoid fully grown adult elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamus, as well as small prey like dik-dik, hyrax, hare and monkey.
One Is Likely a Female", "Examining the Extinction of the Barbary Lion and Its Implications for Felid Conservation", "The past and present distribution of the lion in southeastern Asia", "Lion population dynamics: do nomadic males matter? It is assumed that their ancestors, five males and two females, were caught in southwestern Ethiopia as part of a zoological collection for Emperor Haile Selassie I.  The generic name Panthera is traceable to the classical Latin word 'panthēra' and the ancient Greek word πάνθηρ 'panther'. Captive breeding of lions was halted to eliminate individuals of unknown origin and pedigree. Lions sought unsuccessfully to evade the biting flies by climbing trees or crawling into hyena burrows; many died or migrated and the local population dropped from 70 to 15 individuals. Two likely explanations follow from this: marks were produced by prehistoric humans during butchering or by the teeth of Thylacoleo carnifex. , While considered a powerful hunter, and a fierce predator, it has been theorized that due to its physiology Thylacoleo was, in fact, a slow runner, limiting its ability to chase prey. Although many modern zoos are more selective about their exhibits, there are more than 1,000 African and 100 Asiatic lions in zoos and wildlife parks around the world. It seems improbable that Thylacoleo could achieve as high a bite force as a modern-day lion; however, this might have been possible when taking into consideration the size of its brain and skull. , In the Republic of the Congo, Odzala-Kokoua National Park was considered a lion stronghold in the 1990s.
In the 20th century, some authors supported the view of the Cape lion being a distinct subspecies. leo. , Lions continue to appear in modern literature as characters including the messianic Aslan in the 1950 novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, and the comedic Cowardly Lion in L. Frank Baum's 1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. , Usually, the mother does not integrate herself and her cubs back into the pride until the cubs are six to eight weeks old. Southeastern Ethiopia is therefore considered a genetic admixture zone between Central and East African lions. Nomadic coalitions became resident at between 3.5 and 7.3 years of age. Spotted hyenas have adapted by frequently mobbing lions that enter their territories.  Between the mid-18th and mid-20th centuries, 26 lion specimens were described and proposed as subspecies, of which 11 were recognised as valid in 2005. They begin to age and weaken at between 10 and 15 years of age at the latest. They spread from France and Italy during the Renaissance to the rest of Europe.  During the European colonisation of Africa in the 19th century, the hunting of lions was encouraged because they were considered as vermin and lion hides fetched £1 each. In Serengeti National Park, female lions favour males with dense, dark manes as mates. Due to the lack of data, the human role in the extinction cannot be proven. , It also had extremely strong fore limbs, with retractable, cat-like claws, a trait previously unseen in marsupials. 
 Another 11 animals thought to be Barbary lions kept in Addis Ababa Zoo are descendants of animals owned by Emperor Haile Selassie.  Cool ambient temperature in European and North American zoos may result in a heavier mane. "Supermatrix and species tree methods resolve phylogenetic relationships within the big cats, "Oldest known pantherine skull and evolution of the tiger", "Untersuchungen zur Stammesgeschichte der Pantherkatzen (, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T15952A5327221.en, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T68933833A54067639.en, "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group", "Phylogeographic patterns in Africa and High Resolution Delineation of genetic clades in the Lion (, "The evolutionary history of extinct and living lions", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, "A second extinct big cat from the late Quaternary of Sri Lanka", "Two forms of cave lion: Middle Pleistocene, "Molecular phylogeny of the extinct cave lion, "Phylogenomic evidence for ancient hybridization in the genomes of living cats (Felidae)", "Himalayan fossils of the oldest known pantherine establish ancient origin of big cats", "Revealing the maternal demographic history of, "Research advances in animal distant hybridization", 10.1644/1545-1410(2005)762[0001:PL]2.0.CO;2, "Lost populations and preserving genetic diversity in the lion, "Are Maneless Tsavo Lions Prone to Male Pattern Baldness?
 The earliest fossils recognisable as lions were found at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and are estimated to be up to 2 million years old.  By 2015, the population had grown to 523 individuals inhabiting an area of 7,000 km2 (2,700 sq mi) in Saurashtra.  The founder of the Waalo kingdom is said to have been raised by lions and returned to his people part-lion to unite them using the knowledge he learned from the lions.
They soon begin to immerse themselves in the pride life, however, playing among themselves or attempting to initiate play with the adults. Lions from North Africa dispersed to southern Europe and Asia between 38,800 and 8,300 ago. The Panthera lineage is estimated to have genetically diverged from the common ancestor of the Felidae around 9.32 to 4.47 million years ago to 11.75 to 0.97 million years ago.  Its skull is very similar to that of the tiger, although the frontal region is usually more depressed and flattened, and has a slightly shorter postorbital region and broader nasal openings than those of the tiger. , African lions live in scattered populations across Sub-Saharan Africa. The health of the hunters is the primary need for the survival of the pride; hunters are the first to consume the prey at the site it is taken. Between 1974 and 2012, 471 coalitions comprising 796 male lions entered a study area of 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi). , Since the beginning of the 21st century, several phylogenetic studies were conducted to aid clarifying the taxonomic status of lion samples kept in museums and collected in the wild.  In 2009, a second image was found that depicts a Thylacoleo interacting with a hunter who is in the act of spearing or fending the animal off with a multiple-barbed spear. , Young lions first display stalking behaviour at around three months of age, although they do not participate in hunting until they are almost a year old and begin to hunt effectively when nearing the age of two. , Lions are part of a group of exotic animals that have been central to zoo exhibits since the late 18th century.
, The lion is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture.
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