American Lion

American lion, Panthera atrox

Commonly known as the American lion, the relationship between Panthera atrox and other big cats around the world has been difficult to classify. Scientists have identified similarities between this cat and modern lions, tigers and jaguars, as well as close similarities with the extinct European cave lion. Recent studies comparing the physical attributes of P. atrox with those of the other big cats have indicated that it may have been a giant jaguar rather than a New World lion (Christiansen 2008; Christiansen and Harris 2009). However, a new ancient DNA study (Barnett et al. 2009) indicates that P. atrox was closely related to both the cave lion (Panthera spelaea) and the modern lion (Panthera leo) and suggests that they were less closely related to jaguars.

American lion, Panthera atrox

Mounted skeleton of an american lion, Panthera atrox, on display at the George C. Page museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Photo by Ed Bierman, and used by permission under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Carnivora (Dogs, Cats, Bears, etc.)
Felidae (Cats)

Length: 1.6-2.5 m (5-8 ft); Martin 1984

Weight: males: 200-300 kg (440-660 lbs);  females: 125-175 kg (275-385 lbs); Christiansen and Harris 2009, Wheeler and Jefferson 2009