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Cape lion (Panthera leo melanochaita / melanochaitus)

United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#1
( This post was last modified: 04-06-2020, 10:23 PM by BorneanTiger )

As mentioned in the thread for the Asiatic lion, Reginald Innes Pocock had published the book "The Fauna Of British India Including Ceylon And Burma Mammalia (Volume 1)", in which he talked about the Asiatic lion, as well as African lions to a lesser extent. In pages 218–220, he mentioned that Captain Smee thought that Gujarati or Indian lions differed from African lions by their smaller manes. Pocock reckoned that Captain Smee's conception of African lions having bigger manes was probably due to specimens kept at European menageries (which can have thicker manes than wild lions), or due to the heavy manes of Barbary lions from Algeria or Cape lions from what was the Cape Colony, which had often been exported to Europe for exhibition in the early part of the 19th century. This thread is dedicated to the Cape lion of modern South Africa, which was the type specimen for the Southern subspecies of lions in Southern and Eastern Africa, which were given the trinomen Panthera leo melanochaita by the Cat Specialist Group in 2017, like how the Barbary lion of the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) was the type specimen for the Northern subspecies of lions in northern parts of Africa and Eurasia (particularly India), which was given the trinomen Panthera leo leo.

Credit: Pocock, 1939
   
   
   

The Cape Colony (Dutch: Kaapkolonie) was a British colony in what is now South Africa, named after the Cape of Good Hope. The British colony was preceded by an earlier Dutch colony of the same name, the Kaap de Goede Hoop, established in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company. The Cape was under Dutch rule from 1652 to 1795 and again from 1803 to 1806. The Dutch lost the colony to Great Britain following the 1795 Battle of Muizenberg, but had it returned following the 1802 Peace of Amiens. It was re-occupied by the UK following the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806, and British possession affirmed with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. The Cape of Good Hope then remained in the British Empire, becoming self-governing in 1872, and uniting with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa in 1910. It then was renamed the Province of the Cape of Good Hope. Following the 1994 creation of the present-day South African provinces, the Cape Province was partitioned into the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Western Cape, with smaller parts in North West province.

Map of the Cape Colony by John George Bartholomew in 1885: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/histo...a_1885.jpg
   
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#2
( This post was last modified: 03-28-2020, 06:40 PM by BorneanTiger )

That said, apart from Eurasian lions in southern Europe and southwest Asia (especially Mesopotamia), even within Africa, the Barbary lion of the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) wasn't the only lion with a mane so 'luxuriant' (as Heptner and Sludskiy put it) that it covered the belly, or as Pocock put, so long that it almost swept the ground. The other lion was the "black-maned" Cape lion of South Africa, the scientific name of which (Panthera leo melanochaita) is now used for extant lions in southern parts of Africa which were grouped into one subspecies by the Cat Specialist Group. Unlike its North African relative (which survived in the wilderness into the 20th century, and was geographically distinct from other lion populations, especially its Western African relative), the Cape lion appears to have gone extinct in the wilderness in the 19th century, the very century when Charles Hamilton Smith described a black-maned specimen from the Cape of Good Hope (south of Cape Town in the southwestern part of what is now South Africa) under Felis (leo) melanochaita, and in geographical proximity to other populations of Southern African lions, especially the Kruger lion, except that the Great Escarpment might have separated the 2 populations, as mentioned by Mazák and Yamaguchi, and therefore, the Cape lion might be closely related to the extant Kruger and Kalahari lions of Southern Africa: http://lionalert.org/page/lion_genetics, https://www.thoughtco.com/cape-lion-1093061, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5...S_20180602

Charles H. Smith, pages 176–177: https://archive.org/stream/naturalistsli...6/mode/2up

*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


Heptner and Sludskiy: https://archive.org/stream/mammalsofsov2...4/mode/2up 
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Gutenberghttp://www.gutenberg.org/files/20129/201...0129-h.htm
   

Jardin des Plantes, Paris: https://books.google.com/books?id=15AsyQ...&q&f=false
   

A Lion Lying Down, drawing by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn in the mid-17th century:
   

Cape Lion Specimen Card
   

As someone remarked in this forum for hunters (after someone suggested that this was the biggest African lion), it looks like a "black-maned" Cape lion: 
   
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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#3
( This post was last modified: 03-28-2020, 07:16 PM by BorneanTiger )

@Lycaon earlier posted this photo of a Cape lion at Antwerp Zoo, Belgium: https://www.akpool.de/ansichtskarten/276...ion-du-cap 
   

And this picture of a lion at Hagenbeck Zoo, Germany, in the thread for lions in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nambia: https://www.zootierliste.de/?klasse=1&or...t=50902723
   
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#4
( This post was last modified: 03-28-2020, 07:48 PM by Dark Jaguar )

Natural History Museum, London/science Photo Library

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/cape-lion-natural-history-museum-londonscience-photo-library.html


Cape lion (Panthera leo melanochaitus), mounted museum specimen. This lion skin was sent to the Natural History Museum, London, UK, in 1954. It is a black-maned Cape lion that was shot near South Africa's Orange River in 1836 by Captain Copland-Crawford of the Royal Artillery. The Cape lion had been hunted to extinction by the end of the 19th century. This display is part of the collections at the Natural History Museum, London, UK.



*This image is copyright of its original author


Cape Lion is a photograph by Natural History Museum, London/science Photo Library which was uploaded on September 20th, 2018.
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#5
( This post was last modified: 03-28-2020, 09:56 PM by BorneanTiger )

So like the Barbary lion, the Cape lion is believed to be extinct in the wild, survived there by its closest relatives (Kalahari lions were transferred to Addo Elephant Sanctuary in the southernmost part of South Africa), but putative descendants exist in captivity. In fact, one guy who was interested to see if Cape lions survived in captivity was John Spence, a South African zoo-director. Reportedly long fascinated by stories of these lions scaling the walls of Jan van Riebeeck's catle (Fort de Goede Hoop) in the 17th century, Spence studied van Riebeeck's journals to discern Cape lions' features, which included a long black mane, black mark in their ears, and reportedly, a larger size. He believed some Cape lions might have been taken to Europe and interbred with other lions. His 30-year search led to the discovery of black-maned lions closely resembling Cape lions at the Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia, in 2000. Besides having a black mane, the specimen that attracted Spence had a "wide face and sturdy legs." Novosibirsk Zoo's population, which had 40 cubs over a 30-year period, continues, and Spence, aided by a zoo in Vienna (Tiergarten Schönbrunn), was allowed to bring two cubs back to Tygerberg Zoo. Back in South Africa, Spence explained that he hoped to breed lions that at least looked like Cape lions, and to have DNA testing done to establish whether or not the cubs were descendants of the original Cape lion. However, Spence died in 2010 and Tygerburg Zoo closed in 2012, with the lions expected to go to Drakenstein Lion Park: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/monitor...007452.stm, http://sibzoo.narod.ru/animal/lev.htm, http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/SOUTH-...52f6d011cc

The captive Siberian lions with features of the Cape lion, BBC:
   

John Spence and the lions at Tygerberg Zoo, South Africa:
Sibzoo (in Russian):
   
   


Associated Press:
   
   
   
   
   
   
   



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( This post was last modified: 03-28-2020, 11:23 PM by BorneanTiger )

This is a book about animals that were kept at the Tower Menagerie in London, from the year 1829. It speaks of there being 3 varieties of lions, the Bengal lion (Asiatic lion), the Cape lion, and the Barbary lion, and it mentions that the Bengal lion had a more extensive mane than the Cape lion, though the Cape lion was bigger than both the Asiatic lion and other African lions! https://archive.org/stream/towermenageri...6/mode/2up

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...

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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#7

I am going to copy my two posts about the size of the Cape lion in your new topic, with a little update.

For the moment I will leave the link, post No. 81 and 84: https://wildfact.com/forum/topic-the-siz...ion?page=6
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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More information about the Cape lion:


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#9
( This post was last modified: 04-09-2020, 12:03 AM by Dark Jaguar )

Same Skin of post #4 in a different angle

https://natureoftheworld.fandom.com/wiki/Cape_Lion


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#10
( This post was last modified: 04-09-2020, 01:30 AM by Dark Jaguar )

Cape Lion Skull

Iziko South African Museum 02 August 2017 Cape Town, Western Cape

https://www.zoochat.com/community/media/cape-lion-skull.423067/


*This image is copyright of its original author





The Cape Lions (Panthera leo melanochaita) of the Museum Wiesbaden  http://www.mwnh.de/coll011.html

additional photographs (2000)


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            A skull of a lion from the Kalahari desert  http://www.mwnh.de/coll011.html
    
 
  • According to the inventory book (prob. 1903): Panthera leo capensis, Kalahari desert, SW-Africa, 1902, C. Berger, missionary [inventory number According to the index card (prob. 1970): Panthera leo melanochaita, Kalahari desert, SW-Africa, missionary Carl Berger, 1902 [inventory number 52]
          According to the paper of (1966), it is probalby a skull of Panthera leo vernayi.


*This image is copyright of its original author
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
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(04-09-2020, 01:26 AM)Dark Jaguar Wrote: Cape Lion Skull

Iziko South African Museum 02 August 2017 Cape Town, Western Cape

https://www.zoochat.com/community/media/cape-lion-skull.423067/


*This image is copyright of its original author





The Cape Lions (Panthera leo melanochaita) of the Museum Wiesbaden  http://www.mwnh.de/coll011.html

additional photographs (2000)


*This image is copyright of its original author



*This image is copyright of its original author



*This image is copyright of its original author



*This image is copyright of its original author



*This image is copyright of its original author




            A skull of a lion from the Kalahari desert  http://www.mwnh.de/coll011.html
    
 
  • According to the inventory book (prob. 1903): Panthera leo capensis, Kalahari desert, SW-Africa, 1902, C. Berger, missionary [inventory number According to the index card (prob. 1970): Panthera leo melanochaita, Kalahari desert, SW-Africa, missionary Carl Berger, 1902 [inventory number 52]
          According to the paper of (1966), it is probalby a skull of Panthera leo vernayi.


*This image is copyright of its original author

As I mentioned in the main thread, Panthera leo vernayi was the former trinomial nomenclature for the Kalahari lion, like how Panthera leo krugeri was for the Kruger or Transvaal lion, or lions in Southeast Africa. In fact, Czech biologist Vratislav Mazák hypothesized in 1975 that it evolved geographically isolated from other populations by the Great Escarpment of Southern Africa, but this theory was questioned in the early 21st century. However, he considered genetic exchanges between lion populations in the Cape, Kalahari and Transvaal regions, and farther east, to have been possible through a corridor between the escarpment and the Indian ocean, as mentioned by Yamaguchi in 2000, while he talked about both the Cape and Barbary lions.
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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( This post was last modified: 04-16-2020, 10:27 AM by GuateGojira )

The size of the Cape lion:

Among the diferent subspecies/populations of lions, the Cape lion is one that is normally stated as one of the largest, togheter with the Barbary lion. However, is there real evidence of this, or is just a popular "myth" based in the large size of the mane of these lions?

Using the evidence available, I will make a description of the specimens in litterature and museums, and this will give us a better idea about the size of this lion population, that based in DNA is not extinct, but it is just the southern population of the still existing Kruger lion.

1 - Body size:
The first time that it was described like a different lion population and nominated as Leo melanochaitus was by Charles Hamilton Smith in 1842, check the original description:

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*This image is copyright of its original author


Since the begining, he describes its bull dog head and great size, but as most of the old descriptions, the characteristics that he used are not exclusive from the lions of that area.

However, previous to that William Cornwalis Harris (1840) is the first in present body measurements of a male and a description of the subspecies:


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For Mazák (1975), those measurements are somewhat reliable but the problem is that it is not clear if he used a real specimen, or just a collection of information of several ones. In that time Mazák do had the knowledge to distinguish the measurements "between pegs" and "over curves", but he did not clarify that in his statements (will discuss this latter) and focused in knowing if it was a "live" animal or a "dead" one. Even then, its body size is remarkable:
* Total length: 320 cm
* Tail length: 91.5 cm
* Shoulder height: 112 cm

Even then, we don't know if the measurments were taken "between pegs" or "over curves" or if they were "in the flesh" or "in the skin".

Gugguisberg (1961) presented a little collections of measurements:

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He clearly described the fact that we can't be sure of the realibility of those measurements, but at the same time, we can't just ignore the posibility that some of them were correct. Take in count that some of them are from museum specimens that are stuffed.

Roberts (1951) present what he think is the only realiable measurement from a Cape lioness:

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He also presented other measurements of other lions, but again, is not clear if those were taken "in the flesh" or "in the skin", specially beause at the time of the original records (between 1820 - 1830) there were no reliable methods to measure great cats, which make posible that those measurements were of skins.

Mazák (1975) made a great description of this particular subspecies, however I manage to get only a few fragments of the information, so here we go:

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*This image is copyright of its original author


By the way, here is the original document of William Patterson of 1789 about the lioness hunted by him and is the first lions measurement published of this subspecies/population. Interestingly he believe that it was "not very large", which again suggest that those measurements were taken "in the flesh along the curves" or "in the skin":

*This image is copyright of its original author


So, using all the information available in these books, we can see that only 3 specimens were obtained from the Cape region and there is no evidence if they were measured in the flesh or from skins and definitelly, based in the dates of the publications none of them was measured "between pegs" as that method started by the year 1890 more or less, long after the entire population of Cape lions were allready extinct. The 3 specimens are:

Date     Sex       Total length     Tail length     Shoulder height
1789    Female   268 cm           91.5 cm       112 cm
1822    Male       335 cm                -                  -
1840    Male       320 cm           91.5 cm       112 cm

As we can see, the measurements seems repetitive and based in the fact that the lions in those dates were measured in the skin, based in the reports of Frederick Selous in his book "A hunter's wanderings in Africa"of 1881 (first edition), we can conclude that those measurements are not reliable. Interentingly Mazák (1975) quotes other records from other areas and I can also mention others:

South Africa - Stevenson-Hamilton: 300 cm total length (94 cm tail).                                        
                    - Vaughan Kirby: 307 cm total length (89 cm tail) - height of 112 cm.

Zimbabwe - F. Selous: 302 cm total length - height of 112 cm.

"East Africa" - S. Downey: 292 cm total length.
                    - Gibbons: 300 cm total length (91.5 cm tail) - height of 109 cm.

Kenya - Hollister: 298 cm total length (103 cm tail).
          - Roosevelt & Heller: 297 cm total length (102 cm tail).

All these record lions were measured "between pegs" and from a total sample of about 400 male lions of East and Southern Africa. Just two measured around 10 ft (305 cm) long and only one aproached the 220 cm in head body (Vaughan Kirby, 1899 - South Africa), the next one been of 208 cm (Gibbons, 1898 - East Africa). So it is practically imposible that those measurements from the years 1780 - 1840 from the Cape lions were real. Like a side note, the tallest lioness from East Africa was of 102 cm (n=16) while the tallest female from Southern Africa was of 99 cm (n=25).

The only weight recorded for this population is the famous lion hunted in the Orange Free State in 1865 that weighed 583 lb (264 kg) which for Mazák is the heaviest lion reliably recorded. I have not found the original source but all the other books that quote this figure do not say if the animal was empty belly or not. Apart from this, there is no other weight in litterature available.

Mazák in his document "Preliminary List of the Specimens of Panthera leo melanochaitus Ch. H. Smith, 1842, Preserved in the Museumsof the Whole World in 1963" of 1963 (attached file) shows a list of measurements of several stuffed specimens at museums taken "over the curves". Interestingly none of them, except for a female, match the 3 sizes recorded by the years 1780 - 1840.

2 - Skull size:

In 1960, Mazák published other document about the same lion subspecies and presented a description of the characteristics that he belived were specifically of this population and presented skull measurements. @peter presented that document here and he can put it again. Interestingly Mazák made 3 documents about this lion population, showing a particular interest on them.

J. H. Mazák used only two skulls from the Cape region, both male, and only one present length measurements. This is not surprise as in the main document about Cape lions from Vratislav Mazák "Notes on the Black-maned Lion of the Cape, Panthera Leo Melanochaita (Ch. H. Smith, 1842) and a Revised List of the Preserved Specimens" from 1975 he presented a descripton of those two skulls but the interesting thing is that the big incomplete skull is the largest skull from a wild specimen that he ever measured, check this:

*This image is copyright of its original author



Based on this, Mazák estimated that the large skull B.M.18.5.23.2 had a condylobasal length of near 355 mm. This is impresive as for a list of 9 males measured by him the largest skull had a condylobasal length of 350.5 mm (GL of 396 mm). Roberts (1951) present a big list of skulls and from a sample of 22 males from Southern Africa the longest skull had a condylobasal length of 348 mm (GL of 395 mm) and from 20 males from East Africa the largest male had a condylobasal length of 335 mm (GL of 375 mm). Important to notice the the longest skull from Southern Africa with 401 mm had a condylobasal lenght of 345 mm, while the longest skull of 380 mm for East Africa do not have condylobasal length (Allen, 1942), which suggest that probably the figure of 335 mm is not the maximum and based in the other 4 skulls from the same region, the condylobasal length of that large skull could be close to 340 mm. This skull is the only evidence that may suggest that the lions of the Cape region were somewhat longer than those of other areas and at diference of the large c.410 mm skull from the Barbary lion, the specimen B.M.18.5.23.2 of the Cape lion is a wild specimen and not a captive one.

I don't know if Mazák (1975) presented more body measurements or skull measurements, but based in other documesnt it seems that what I found is all. About other skull measurements, I could get this list:

Males:                          
Greatest lenght           330.8     338     358.1
Condylobasal length   319.1     287     325.5     c.355
Source                          1.          2.         3.            4.  

Females:
Greatest lenght            307       308      301    
Condylobasal length    291         -         281
Source                          5.          2.         5.

Sources: 1. Christiansen, 2007; 2. Mazák & Husson, 1960; 3. J. H. Mazák, 2010; 4. Mazák, 1975; 5. Meester, 1971.

Based in the other 3 male lions skulls, the big specimen B.M.18.5.23.2 could have a greatest skull length of  392 mm (range 367 - 418 mm), but this is just speculation as the variation is too great between the specimens.

Now let's compare these figures with the big sample of Roberts (1951) that compile a big list of skulls from Southern and East Africa:

*This image is copyright of its original author



It seems that all, except for the big specimen B.M.18.5.23.2 match the other lion skulls from the other regions. This suggest that the Cape lion was not particularly big, but match the biggest lions from South Africa. This is not surprise as we stablished very well, based in several weights, that lions in Southern Africa are the biggest of the species.

We can remember that the biggest condylobasal length from a lion, measured by Mazák, was of 377 mm, but that came from a captive lion with such a deformed skull that almoust looked like a horse.

I was trying to get a good idea about the variation on the skull values of the lions in Southern Africa with the sole porpuse of estimate the greatest length of the skull of the largest Cape lion specimen B.M. 18.5.23.2.

As we know Mazák (1975) estimated a Condylobasal length of near to 355 mm, the biggest among the wild lion specimens, although not by a really big margin. The largest real condylobasal length that Mazák measured was of 350.5 mm and came from a skull with a greatest length of 396 mm. The biggest condylobasal length measured by Roberts (1950) is of 348 mm and came from a skull of 395 mm.

Now, how reliable is to use condylobasal length to get the greatest length? I far I remember the idea was good in the case of tigers, but I never had done that with lions. Using the 3 specimens from the Cape, 6 from the Transvaal region and 11 from other parts of Southern Africa, I could get some figures to understan the relation.

When I used only the males from the Cape (n=3) the relation is the worst with R2 been of only 0.1678, and the graphic that I got shows the values all over the place. The main problem is the skull of 338 mm, which for some reason Mazák & Husson (1960) presented a condylobasal length of only 287 mm, too short for a male. So, using only these 3 specimens is imposible to get a reliable estimation of the greatest length of the skull.

Now, using only males from the Kruger/Transvaal region (n=6) the relation is the best with R2 been 0.8203. In this case we can estimate, using a ratio of 1.1378 between GSL/CBL, that the greates length of the specimen B.M. 18.5.23.2 will be of c.404 mm.

Finally, using all the males from the Southern region, including Kruger/Transvaal and the Cape (n=20), the relation is moderated to good with R2 been 0.7966. So we can estimate, using a ratio of 1.1288 between GSL/CBL, that the greates length of the specimen B.M. 18.5.23.2 will be of c.400.7 mm.

Now, the problem with this is that based on descriptions like that of Smith (1842) and @peter, the skull of the Cape lion is relativelly shorter and bulldog like in comparison with those from other lions like those from Kruger. If this is the case this may suggest a slightly shorter skull. In fact, if we use only the Cape lions the GSL will be of c.392 mm, but as the R2 is the worst, that figure is not reliable.

Based on this, it seems that the skull of the male B.M. 18.5.23.2 was slightly over 400 mm, depending of the method used, and among the largest skulls ever recorded. For comparison, the largest skull reported by Stevenson-Hamilton was of 406 mm in GSL and the biggest from Vaughan Kirby is of 419 mm. However the problem with this figures is that none of the authors describe the method that they used to measure the skulls, if they use caliphers or if they used just two perpendiculars and including the mandible, like it was the norm in those days. If that was the case, the GSL will slightly smaller than the presented values with 1 cm less at the most.

Hemmer (1974) presented these ranges for skull measurements from this population:

*This image is copyright of its original author



This values are less than the ones found, and I still will like to see where he got the higher values, as none of the skulls on record reported by Mazák of Christiansen presents the GSL of 394 mm and the CBL of 340 mm. Even then, the values are no larger than those from Kruger region.

3 - Conclusion:
Based on this evidence, there is little information to support the claim that the Cape lion was in fact a particularly large population of lions in size terms, with only 3 specimens measured "in the skin" and only one weight. In the skull department they are of the same size of the largest lions of South Africa, with a posibility that at least one was slightly larger than the others recorded.

Interestingly there are South African lions that have the same characteristics of the Cape lions, for example this male nicknamed "Hairy Belly":

*This image is copyright of its original author



It match the especifications of Mazák and based on evidence the Cape lions were just the southern population of the existing lions of South Africa. Check this picture from skulls (probably not in the Mazák's sample), the smaller is from the Cape:

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*This image is copyright of its original author



Check also this picture from @peter:

*This image is copyright of its original author


It seems that with a larger sample, we could conclude that the "special characteristics" that diferentiated the Cape lions were just random characteristics of the specific specimens studied. Similar results were get by J. H. Mazák (2010) with his study on tiger skulls.

Hope this helps to know that, like the Barbary lion, there is no evidence to suggest that the Cape lions were giants, but contrary to the north manned, the Cape probably did reached the huge sizes of the present South African lions.

Greetings to all.

Attached Files
.pdf   Cape lion specimens-stuffed_Mazák-1963.pdf (Size: 1.1 MB / Downloads: 0)
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#13

Information on Cape lions by Vratislav Mazak

Vratislav Mazak


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On a mounted skeleton of apparently the extinct Cape Lion, Panthera leo melanochaita (Ch. H. Smith, 1842)

Abstract
Recently, the skeleton of apparently a Cape Lion was discovered in the Zoological Museum of the University of Amsterdam. The history ofthe specimen as far as known is summarized and its attribution to Panthera leo melanochaita is elucidated with some measurements taken from the skeleton and the study of fur colours and manes’ development on an oil painting of the same animal in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Both the animal and the painting once belonged to King Louis Napoleon Bonaparte of Holland.

Skeleton of the cape lion


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Painting of male lion in the menagerie of King Louis Napoleon


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How the cape lion looked like. Drawing by Mazak


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https://www.repository.naturalis.nl/document/571966
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