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Museum Minute: The American Lion

Dantheman9758 at English Wikipedia

More than 10,000 years ago, there was quite a different array of fauna and wildlife on the landscape. Most species of the Pleistocene Epoch went extinct.

“The American lion or panther was first described to science in 1853 by a renowned American naturalist by the name of Joseph Lady, who found an incomplete mandible or lower jaw from Mississippi,” said Corey Anco, the assistant curator of the Draper Natural History Museum.

Over the next 160 years, a debate ensued on where the American lion fell within the Panthera lineage.

“Some schools thought it was some sort of large lion, more related to a tiger,” he said. “And some thought it was more similar to a jaguar or a jaguar-lion.”

Ultimately, some researchers studied the different measurements between the teeth and skull and took some cranial measurements. Finally, there was an answer.

“It’s a distinct species from the African lion but may have shared a common ancestor with the lion that we know as Panthera Leo. Both possibly originating from Asia,” said Anco.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.