Prehistoric Animals Collection
CAVE LION PANTHERA LEO SPELAEA

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Cave Lion

The European Cave Lion (Panthera leo spelaea) first appeared in Europe around 500,000 years ago and lived up to the near close of the last European Ice Age. They coexisted with primitive humans such as Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon man and prehistoric European cave paintings have been found depicting these beasts as well as Paleolithic ivory carvings and clay figures. Artifact evidence suggests these animals were worshipped and on rare occasion, hunted by prehistoric man.

The European Cave Lion was larger than most living cats today and grew to average weights and lengths meeting or exceeding the largest ever recorded Siberian Tiger in modern time. The overall head/body length averaged 3.5 meters with males weighing in at 400 kilos! This massive predator appeared more like a mix between a lion and a tiger with very robust features. Prehistoric art gives us a rare glimpse of what these creatures looked like when alive. The European Cave Lion had protruding ears, little to no mane, faint tiger-like stripes and a tufted tail. Typical prey included mammals such as horse, boar and deer. Paleolithic cave deposits made by human habitation indicates these animals were also hunted by prehistoric man.

by John McNamara