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Gigantic lion, Panthera leo, from the Pleistocene of Natodomeri, eastern Africa

  • Fredrick K. Manthi (a1), Francis H. Brown (a2), Michael J. Plavcan (a3) and Lars Werdelin (a4)

The partial skull of a lion from Natodomeri, northwest Kenya is described. The Natodomeri sites are correlated with Member I of the Kibish Formation, dated to between 195 ka and ca. 205 ka. The skull is remarkable for its very great size, equivalent to the largest cave lions (Panthera spelaea [Goldfuss, 1810]) of Pleistocene Eurasia and much larger than any previously known lion from Africa, living or fossil. We hypothesize that this individual represents a previously unknown population or subspecies of lion present in the late Middle and Late Pleistocene of eastern Africa rather than being an indication of climate-driven size increase in lions of that time. This raises questions regarding the extent of our understanding of the pattern and causes of lion evolution in the Late Pleistocene.

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      Gigantic lion, Panthera leo, from the Pleistocene of Natodomeri, eastern Africa
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Francis H. Brown is deceased.

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Journal of Paleontology
  • ISSN: 0022-3360
  • EISSN: 1937-2337
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