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From this lion derived the later cave lion (Panthera leo spelaea), which appeared about 300,000 years ago.Lions died out in northern Eurasia at the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago; this may have been secondary to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna.The liger is a cross between a male lion and a tigress.Because the growth-inhibiting gene from the female tiger mother is absent, the growth-promoting gene passed on by the male lion father is unimpeded by a regulating gene and the resulting ligers grow far larger than either parent.They were distinguished on the basis of appearance, size, and colour of mane.As these characteristics vary highly between individuals, most of these forms were probably not true subspecies, especially as they were often based upon museum material that may have had "striking, but abnormal" morphological characteristics.Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world since the late 18th century.
Male lions are easily recognized by their manes, and the male's face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture.
This population has been listed as Critically Endangered in 2015 and survives in West Africa from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin to Niger and Nigeria.
It is possibly extinct in Mauritania, Mali, Ghana, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Togo.
The lion's closest relatives are the other species of the genus Panthera: the tiger, the snow leopard, the jaguar, and the leopard.
Studies from 20 concluded that the jaguar is a sister species to the lion and the leopard is a sister taxon to the jaguar/lion clade It appeared in the fossil record in Europe for the first time 700,000 years ago with the subspecies Panthera leo fossilis at Isernia in Italy.