Panthera atrox (American Lion)

Panthera atrox was about 25 percent larger than modern lions
Panthera atrox (American Lion) Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Panthera atrox
Panthera atrox (American Lion) Physical Characteristics
564–930 pounds
Panthera atrox (American Lion) Distribition

Panthera atrox— generally referred to as “the American lion”- is an extinct species of lion belonging to the North American continent. The partnership in between this lion and modern-day lion species has actually been controversial for several years after its exploration. Nevertheless, current research studies have actually exposed its close partnership with the cave lion. American lions ruled the North American continents for hundreds of years. They, nevertheless, went extinct about 10,000 years back.

Summary and Dimension

Panthera atrox is much more generally referred to as the American lion. It is likewise called the North American lion or American cave lion. The scientific name “Panthera atrox” is a Latin expression that converts as “terrible” or “fearful panther.” It resided in The United States and Canada from the Pleistocene Date regarding 340,000 years ago prior to it went extinct regarding 11,000 years back.

For many years, the fondness of this lion stayed a questionable topic. Professionals assumed it could have been associated with the jaguar, tiger, or panther. Nevertheless, much more current DNA research studies have actually exposed that the American lion was a loved one of the cave lion (likewise extinct). The only living close loved one of Panthera atrox is the modern-day lion.

Because there’s a wealth of fossil products on this lion, we have a fairly great image of what it could have resembled. Researchers assume it highly appeared like modern-day lions however was significantly bigger.

The American lion was in between 5.3 and 8.2 feet long and stood at regarding 3.9 feet from the ground to the shoulder. Weight approximates for this lion range 564 and 930 extra pounds. While the American lion was larger than today’s lion, it was smaller sized than a number of its extinct contemporaries, such as the Smilodon populator (a sort of saber- toothed cat) and the North American gigantic brief- encountered bear, which was most likely a straight rival for food in the exact same environment.

Based upon some maintained skin continues to be of this lion, there are suppositions that it could have had a red pigmentation. Nevertheless, professionals assume it did not have a hair like modern-day lions.

Skull and neck of a Panthera atrox (fossil North American lion) (Pleistocene; North America)
The muzzle of the cave lion, which carefully looks like the American lion, was much longer and narrower than modern-day lions.

Diet – What Did the Panthera atrox Eat?

The diet of the American lion resembles those of its modern-day family members. It most likely victimized wild horses, deer, tapir, mammoths, American bison, and various other hoofed animals that shared the exact same environment with it. Paleontologists when located the mummified fossils of a bison that was iced up in ice in Alaska. The carcass had bite and claw marks from American lions, verifying that they preceded bison.

Environment – When and Where the Panthera atrox Lived

Panthera atrox resided in The United States and Canada throughout the Pleistocene Date. Fossils of this lion have actually been uncovered in different areas from Alaska to Peru. Nevertheless, none have actually been located in the northeastern component of Canada and in the southerly Florida location.

The American lion probably resided in meadows and savannas, similar to existing- day lions. Given that some components of the common array were characterized by cool weather problems, the lion most likely nestled in collapse these locations. Professionals likewise assume they lined their dens with fallen leaves or lawn like Siberian tigers.

Panthera atrox was most likely a smart animal. Professionals concerned this final thought since fossils of this lion are not as typical as that of various other predators that lived around the exact same duration. This recommends that they discovered to escape entrapments that eliminated various other predators.

American lions were social however really did not create a satisfaction like modern-day lions. Rather, they most likely created searching sets to remove victim. The distinction in the dimension of the skeletal systems of males and females recommends a sort of sex-related dimorphism.

Risks and Predators

The American lion shared the exact same eco-friendly particular niche as the gigantic brief- encountered bear (Arctodus simus). Given that this primitive bear was among the biggest well-known earthbound animal carnivorans, both species would certainly have contended for food frequently. Panthera atrox likewise lived together with humans throughout the later component of its presence. Archeologists have actually located lion bones in garbage lots of indigenous Americans from the Paleolithic Age. This recommends that the very early humans pursued this predator for food.

Discoveries and Fossils – Where Panthera atrox Was Found

William Henry Huntington Esquire accumulated the very first fossils of Panthera atrox in the 1830s. The bones, which included a partial left jaw with 3 molars and components of a canine tooth, were accumulated in Natchez, Mississippi. Nevertheless, it had not been up until 1853 that the fragmentary sampling was called. Several years later on, a couple of even more samplings were located.

In 1907, gold miners operating in Kotzebue, Alaska, located a number of fossils coming from the American lion. Throughout the mid- 1900s, researchers located a number of much more fossils coming from this species in the La Brea tar pits in The golden state. A minimum of 80 private samplings were recouped from La Brea. An in-depth summary of these samplings was released in 1932. One more prominent website that has a great deal of American lion fossils is the All-natural Catch Collapse Wyoming. The fossils from this website were well- maintained and were utilized for mitochondrial DNA evaluation to discover the lion’s living family members.

Termination – When Did the Panthera atrox Pass Away Out?

The last Panthera atrox lions went extinct regarding 11,000 years back. This was throughout the very early Holocene Date. Throughout this moment, a significant termination happened that erased the mammoths and a number of various other huge animals living at the time. The American lions were amongst the species influenced by this occasion. Researchers likewise assume human tasks added to the loss of this species.

Similar Animals to the Panthera atrox

Similar animals to the Panthera atrox consist of:

  • Panthera spelae – This Panthera species is likewise referred to as the Eurasian cave lion or European cave lion. It resided in Europe regarding 600,000 years back and went extinct in the very early Holocene date about 13,000 years back.
  • Panthera leo – Frequently described as lion, Panthera leo is the closest living loved one of the American lion. This huge cat is belonging to Africa and Asia. It has to do with 25 percent smaller sized than thePanthera atrox
  • Smilodon – This is an extinct genus of saber- toothed cats that resided in the Americas throughout the Pleistocene Date. They’re close family members of modern-day tigers however were larger than they were. One of the most noteworthy function of this team of cats was their incredibly lengthy top canine teeth.


  1. Wikipedia, Available here:
  2. The Extinctions, Available here:
  3. Libguides, Available here:

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