The Cave Lion (Panthera spelaea) is a genus of prehistoric lion that originated during the Pleistocene epoch in what is now Europe. In the Series 3 finale "Mammoth's Undertaking Journey", a few of these large lions were encountered and brought back to the Park from 30,000 years ago.
Era & DiscoveryEdit
The Cave Lion lived during the Pleistocene epoch and through to the Early Holocene, from 1,000,000 to 10,000 years ago. It was one of the top predators of the Ice Age. These cats may have seemed out of reach, but they were common in Europe during the ice age.
P. spelaea was first described by the German paleontologist Georg August Goldfuss in 1810 under the scientific name Felis spelaea. The first fossil lion skull was excavated in a cave in southern Germany, research suggests that it may date to the Würm glaciation.
The Cave Lion was more related to the modern species rather than other extinct cats, such as Dinofelis and even Smilodon. Standing almost 5 feet tall, measuring 11.5 feet (3.5 m) long, and weighing more than 340 kg (750 lbs.), the Cave Lion was the largest cat the ever existed, larger than modern lions of today and slightly bigger than tigers.
These Cave Lions also lacked manes like the eastern subspecies of the modern beasts, but some African and Asian male lions also lack manes (or have smaller than expected). Unlike the modern lions, however, cave lions also had thick fur, like most modern Siberian tigers, especially in winter.
In addition to being equipped with 20 retractable, sharp claws on each foot, the Cave Lion also had bone-crushing teeth and a bite force of over 1800 pounds, twice the strength of a modern lion's 900-pound bite force. The Cave Lion was also a very fast animal, capable of running 30 miles per hour.
Behavior & Traits Edit
The Cave Lions were major predators, hunting ice age deer, bison, and other animals. These lions also were ambush predators, needing the use of heavy cover to hide their bodies and erupting out of the bush to tackle their prey with impressive speed, agility, and strength. However, like all cats, the Cave Lion could only chase prey over a short distance. Despite their size, strength, and relatively long legs, Cave Lions were not designed for long-distance chases. Additionally, hunting for these cats is described as "nearly impossible", due to their great size. Therefore, it is hard for these cats to hide,