According to caves drawings, male specimens of ice age cave lions lacked a mane. Ethological observations of the recent subspecies showed the significance of the mane of male lions (Panthera leo) in intraspecific social interaction. For the Pleistocene lion, there are two possible implications; the social system was different from the modern subspecies or the cooler climate did not allow the development of manes. Whereas the former can only be discussed, the latter is supported by evidence based on infrared thermography and considerations on thermoregulation. Thermal images of the recent subspecies clearly demonstrate the significance of mane development in terms of functional morphology. Probably, manes in felids can develop in warm climate only. The mane results in considerable insulation from heat loss. In order to compensate, male lions radiate internal heat in proximal areas of the body. Pleistocene lions were probably covered by thick fur, trapping their body heat and thus limiting the biological potential to develop additional insulation such as a mane.

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Scripta Geologica

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Nagel, D, Hilsberg, S, Benesch, A, & Scholz, J. (2003). Functional morphology and fur patterns in Recent and fossil Panthera species. Scripta Geologica, 126, 227–240.