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Panthera spelaea

Extinct cave lion species / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Panthera spelaea, also known as the Eurasian cave lion, European cave lion or steppe lion,[1] is an extinct Panthera species that most likely evolved in Europe after the third Cromerian interglacial stage, less than 600,000 years ago. Phylogenetic analysis of fossil bone samples revealed that it was highly distinct and genetically isolated from the modern lion (Panthera leo) occurring in Africa and Asia.[2]

Quick facts: Panthera spelaea Temporal range Late Pleisto...
Panthera spelaea
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene, 0.6–0.013 Ma
Skeleton in Natural History Museum, Vienna
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera
P. spelaea
Binomial name
Panthera spelaea
Goldfuss, 1810
Panthera spelaea vereshchagini (formerly Panthera leo vereshchagini Baryshnikov & Boeskorov, 2001)
Red indicates the maximal range of Panthera spelaea, blue Panthera atrox, and green Panthera leo.
  • Panthera leo spelaea M. Boule & L. De Villeneuve, 1927
  • Uncia spelaea

Analysis of morphological differences and mitochondrial data support the taxonomic recognition of Panthera spelaea as a distinct species that genetically diverged from the lion about 1.9 million years ago.[3][4] Nuclear genomic evidence shows a more recent split approximately 500,000 years ago, with no subsequent interbreeding with the ancestors of the modern lion.[5] The oldest known bone fragments were excavated in Yakutia and radiocarbon dated at least 62,400 years old. It became extinct about 13,000 years ago.[6]