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Mammalian Biology

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 58–65 | Cite as

On the distinctiveness of the Cape lion (Panthera leo melanochaita Smith, 1842), and a possible new specimen from the Zoological Museum, Copenhagen

  • Per ChristiansenEmail author
Original Investigation

Abstract

The Cape lion was a population of lions that probably inhabited the western part of the Cape Province of South Africa until their extermination by man in the mid-19th century. Only a few skeletal remains are known, making every specimen valuable. In this paper, I report on a possible new male specimen CN1570 from the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen. A multivariate discriminant analysis on 27 craniodental variables provided clear separation between four of the five lion subspecies (Panthern leo krugeri, nubica, persica, senegalensis) that were included, whereas P. l. bleyenberghi showed some overlap with P. l. senegalensis and P. l. krugeri. The only two undisputed Cape lion males grouped separately from all other lions. CN1570 also grouped separately from other lions, and towards the two Cape lions. The external morphology of the Cape lion is often cited as having been different from other sub-Saharan lions, but phenotypic plasticity argues for caution in placing emphasis on mane morphology as a distinguishing character among lion subspecies. Skull morphology, however, appears to clearly distinguish male Cape lions from other African lions.

Keywords

Cape lion Lion subspecies Skull morphology Morphometry Discriminant analysis 

Die Eigenständigkeit des Kaplöwen (Panthera leo melanochaita Smith, 1842) und ein mögliches neues Exemplar aus dem Zoologischen Museum Kopenhagen

Zusammenfassung

Kaplöwen waren bis zu ihrer Ausrottung durch den Menschen in der Mitte des 19. Jh. wahrscheinlich im westlichen Teil der südafrikanischen Kapprovinz verbreitet. Der Wissenschaft sind nur drei Schädel bekannt. In dieser Arbeit wird über ein mögliches neues männliches Exemplar (Sammlungsnummer CN1570) aus den Sammlungen des Zoologischen Museums in Kopenhagen berichtet. Eine multivariate Diskriminan-zanalyse von 27 craniodentalen Merkmalen ergab eine klare Trennung von vier der fünf analysierten Löwenunterarten (Panthera leo krugeri, nubica, persica, senegalensis), wogegen Panthera leo bleyenberghi eine gewisse Überlappung mit Panthera leo senegalensis sowie P. l. krugeri zeigte. Die beiden einzigen eindeutigen Kaplöwenmännchen waren von allen anderen Löwen getrennt. CN1570 war ebenfalls getrennt und tendierte zu den beiden Kaplöwen. Die äußere Morphologie des Kaplöwen wird oft als deutlich verschieden von anderen Löwen südlich der Sahara beschrieben, doch kann dies auch auf phänotypischer Plastizität beruhen, so daß die Ausprägung der Mähne nur unter Vorbehalt als taxonomisches Merkmal genutzt werde sollte. Die Schädelmorphologie jedoch scheint ein Merkmalskomplex zu sein, mit dem Kaplöwen eindeutig von anderen Löwen unterschieden werden können.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of VertebratesZoological MuseumCopenhagen ØDenmark

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