Lion’s Mane

by Michael

Magnificent African Lion - Serengeti National Park, Tanzania -- Photo by wwarby

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Magnificent African Lion - Serengeti National Park, Tanzania -- Photo by wwarby

Comprehensive facts about the lion mane are listed here. The mane of the lion is perhaps the best known single piece of wild animal anatomy other than a tiger's stripes. It is a magnificent and interesting object that varies from lion to lion and place to place.
lion mane chart

  • The lion's mane is unique among the cat family1.
  • The mane makes the lion look more impressive. It is a very distinct visual signal, which is why we as humans remember it so well. It can be seen from far off. With a mane, the lion looks intimidating2. This seems to be the primary function.
  • A secondary function of the mane may be to help protect the lion's neck region in a fight. The dense fur protects against bites and blows3.
  • Manes come in a range of sizes and normally become thicker and longer as the lion becomes older4|5. Development of the mane continues beyond sexual maturity6. It is not clear that testosterone levels affect lion mane density. But this is contradicted by the Wikipedia author who says that castrated male lions have very small manes. Inbreeding (in captivity and in the wild) results in poor fertility and poor manes (see also Inbreeding of Wildcats)
  • The darker and fuller the mane the healthier the lion7.
  • Another factor dictating the size and density of a lion mane is climate. Climate varies with height above sea level as well as by region on the African continent. Lions living at the equator in East Africa have denser and bigger manes when living at cooler, higher elevations8. Lions living in warmer lower lying areas develop their mane later in life with slower mane growth. The Serengeti is at a higher elevation so the lions of the Serengeti develop a mane faster than in Tsavo9. Lions with exceptional manes (see top of chart, right) come from the mountain plateaus10.
  • The so called "maneless lions" of Tsavo (a region of Kenya located at the crossing of the Uganda Railway over the Tsavo River, where there are two national parks) do, in fact, develop manes.
  • The greatest variation in mane density (see chart) and size exists in the equatorial East Africa11.
  • It is likely that lions can recognise each other from their manes.
  • The rate of growth of the lion mane varies between individual lions. Some 4 year old lions have a thick mane while others have a small one12.
  • The mane's colour varies from yellow, reddish brown and brown and it is thought to darken with age13.
  • The mane usually starts to grow at about 3.5 years of age14.
  • Asiatic lions (those now restricted to the Gir Forest National Park in north west India - lion habitat) have smaller (and thinner) manes than African lions15.
  • Female lions prefer males with big manes16.
  • It is said that mane length signals fighting success17.
  • Darker maned lions are sexually active for longer and their offspring survive for longer18.
  • It is possible that early European lions were maneless (indicated by cave paintings - see also History of the Big Cats)
  • Lionesses can have ruffs (a kind of vestigial lion mane)

From Lion Mane to Wild Cat Species


1 Wikipedia®

2 East African Mammals: An altas of evolution in Africa Kingdon J 1989

3 The Serengeti Lion - Schaller GB 1972

4 Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists page 287

5 Journal of Zoology and and

6 Journal of Zoology

7 Wikipedia®

8 Journal of Zoology and

9 Journal of Zoology and

10 Journal of Zoology

11 Journal of Zoology

12 The Serengeti Lion - Schaller GB 1972

13 Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists page 287

14 Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists page 287

15 The Lions of Asia - Pocock RI 1930

16 Trivedi, Bijal P. (22 August 2002). "Female Lions Prefer Dark-Maned Males, Study Finds". National Geographic News. National Geographic. LINK BROKEN 2012.

17 Wikipedia®

18 Wikipedia®

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Lion Mane

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Jul 18, 2011 STOP IT
by: Michael (Admin)

Comments for this post are now moderated. Spam comments will not be published. You are wasting your time.

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Nov 20, 2010 Informative.
by: Anonymous

Great information, I would seriously be scared if I saw one of these in the wilderness. I would hope that I have some sort of weapon or bear spray on me.

Nov 03, 2010 Some contradictions
by: Anonymous

In my opinion there are some controversies regarding the color of the mane of lions. On the one hand, the dark color indicates good health of the animal and its genetic predisposition to having a physical force. After all the great known fact about this lack, as an albino. But at the same time, we know many cases where male lions that have light-colored mane, in many ways superior to their compatriots with almost black color. Therefore, we should not get hung up on this characteristic in the preparation of a detailed resume of the animal.

Oct 26, 2010 Your wrong
by: Anonymous

and I also read that your WRONG.

Jan 19, 2010 what i read
by: kathy

I once read an article in National Geographic on Lions manes and it said that female lions prefer males with a dark mane. There also are maneless lions in Africa, I also read that in N.G.

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