Cave lions existed about 900,000 years ago in Eurasia and disappeared with the end of the ice age. They were larger, stronger, faster and, more dangerous than the lions that exist today. There still exist drawings by ancient humans of cave lions along with other animals of that time, suggesting they that their physical appearance attracted great attention from the people of that time. Here are some more curious facts about cave lions.
Scientific Name: Panthera leo spelaea
Habitat: Woodlands and mountains of Eurasia
Historical Period: Late Pleistocene-Modern
Bigger, stronger, faster
The cave lions were about a third larger than the African lions. Their animals included a large variety of animals and might even have included humans. Their bones extracted from the fossils were bigger than those of today’s lions.
They had a strong jaw and teeth that enabled them to dig a powerful bite at the neck, or even chest of their prey.
Their legs were more muscular and stronger than that of lions that exist today. Although, they couldn’t run for long distances, but were good sprinters when short bursts of acceleration were needed.
Preferred Diet of Cave Bear
The cave lions are called cave lions not because they lived in caves, but much of their bones were found in the caves where cave bears lived. It is believed that cave lions often hunted for cave bears while they were in hibernation and sometimes even became prey to the cave bears if they woke up. Other than that they also ate large herbivores like baby mammoths, bison and, reindeers.
It is suggested that the cave lions were individual hunters and did not hunt in packs like African lions.
Cave drawings of Cave lions
Paleolithic caves have many paintings, ivory carvings and clay figurines of cave lions. It is from these figurines and paintings that, today, we know how the cave lions looked like. The cave lions had round protruding ears, faint stripes, tufted tails and might have had some mane around their neck among the male cave lions.
“Lion Man” is an ivory sculpture found in a German cave. The lion man is a lion-headed man/woman that depicts how the ancient humans revered the cave lions. It is currently on display at the museum of Ulm in Germany.
Extinction of Cave lions
The Ice Age created its own wildlife, mighty mammoths, giant deer, woolly rhinos, cave bears and cave lions, all of which are extinct today.
It unclear, though likely that cave lions disappeared due to climate change. The sudden disappearance of its prey animals and over-hunting of deers, bears and other mammals by humans could have led to their eventual extinction. They probably became extinct between 14,900 and 14,100 years ago.