Modern lions, part of the cat family, first appeared in south and east Africa, before evolving into two groups.
One now lives in eastern and southern Africa, while the other includes lions in west Africa and India.
Like many other animals, male lions are much larger and heavier than females, with the average weight for a male around 416 lbs (189 kg), while for a female it’s 277 lbs (126 kg)
The heaviest male lion recorded was spotted in Kenya and was 600 lbs (272 kg).
Much smaller in comparison, the heaviest female, found in South Africa, was 335 lbs (152 kg).
That is heavier than the weight of more than 50 female domestic cats put together.
Lions have three types of teeth: Incisors, used for gripping and tearing meat; Canines used to rip skin and tear away meat; Carnassial teeth act like a pair of scissors to cut meat.
Single lion looking regal standing proudly on a small hill
Lions can open their jaws to up to 11 inches (28 cm) wide, giving them one of the animal kingdom’s biggest bites.
A lion’s paws are similar to a pet cat’s, with five toes on the front paws and four on the back.
Lions have retractable claws, which can grow up to 1.5 inches (38 mm) in length. A fifth toe on the front paw has what is called a deathclaw, which acts like a thumb for holding down prey when eating.
Lion cubs are born with a greyish woolly coat, with dark spots covering most of the back, legs and face which act as camouflage.
At around 12 to 14 months old, male cubs begin to grow longer hair around their chests and necks.
This is the beginning of their mane, which will not have grown properly until they reach the age of two.
Lion cubs are born blind and don’t begin to open their eyes until around three to four days old.
Their eyes are a blue-grey colour at first and begin to change to an orangey brown by the age of two to three months.
Lions have scent glands around their chin, lips, cheeks, whiskers, tail and in-between their toes.
These glands produce an oily substance to keep their fur healthy and waterproof.
If you ever see a picture of a lion curling up its top lip and pulling a funny face, the chances are it’s using something called its
This is a small area in the roof of the mouth that allows a lion to ‘taste’ smells in the air.
By showing their teeth and sticking out their tongues, lions are able to catch hold of a smell to work out if it’s coming from something worth eating.
Lions also have good sense of hearing, and can turn their ears in different directions to listen to sounds all around them.They are able to hear their prey from a mile (1.6 km) way.