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Palaeontology

Giant prehistoric lion was as tall as a man

March 26, 2018 | Comment icon 15 comments



As if today's lions weren't terrifying enough. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Yathin S Krishnappa
Fossil hunters have discovered the skull of a huge prehistoric lion that roamed Africa 200,000 years ago.
Unearthed in Natodomeri in northwest Kenya, the partial skull measures almost 15 inches long - an increase of around 20 percent over the skulls of today's lions.

With a height matching that of an adult human, this giant cat would have been truly terrifying.

Researchers believe that the species evolved to hunt the herds of large herbivores that were prevalent across the African continent during the late Middle to Late Pleistocene period.
"This skull is the first indication of the existence of a population of giant lions in the late Middle and Late Pleistocene of eastern Africa, perhaps occasioned by the presence of greater megafaunal biomass than today," the study authors wrote.

"The skull is remarkable for its very great size, equivalent to the largest cave lions of Pleistocene Eurasia and much larger than any previously known lion from Africa, living or fossil."



Source: Newsweek | Comments (15)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by oldrover 4 years ago
Well look at us. Big in prehistory then pretty small during the Middle Ages, then big again now. I think if's to do with the availability of resources. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by bison 4 years ago
The largest mammals died out during the Pleistocene ice ages. Less food was available, all around. Fewer plants for herbivores to eat, so fewer, and smaller, herbivores for carnivores to prey on.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
Link to the paper: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-paleontology/article/gigantic-lion-panthera-leo-from-the-pleistocene-of-natodomeri-eastern-africa/7EEA07E7CA62809F577CBD5F31E8EE4A What's particularly interesting is that this specimen is an atypically large modern lion (Panthera leo), and not a typically big extinct species like P. spelaea or P. atrox.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Hankenhunter 4 years ago
I was hoping for a artists rendition but still a cool article. Hank
Comment icon #10 Posted by LightAngel 4 years ago
Wow, my mind's eye imagines how they would have looked. Hurrah for visual imagination 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago
I think this is oxygen depletion. Among other things. It could be so many factors scarecer food, overcrowding but mostly im guessing the changing atmosphere. It was a lot different back then. Before people it seems that size always won.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Stiff 4 years ago
After reading the title, the urge to sing 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' is just a whim away. A whim away, a whim away, a whim away...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
I am gonna hero worship you for the next 30 seconds for that. LMAO.  
Comment icon #14 Posted by Stiff 4 years ago
Comment icon #15 Posted by Sameerr 4 years ago
It's funny that always when a new discovery is made of a giant animal, the first thing someone does is to exaggerate the animal's size in the article. It says the "Giant prehistoric lion was as tall as a man" --- Really ? Now you should be wondering if the lion is close to 6 feet tall at shoulders on all fours ? No extinct feline is known to have a shoulder height of 5 feet. The article also says that this lion is comparable to the size of the cave lion( which is slightly smaller than the American lion). There are few extinct gigantic bears which are as tall as a man, indeed 6 feet at shoulder... [More]


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