Main Group: Placental Mammals (Carnivores)

Time: Pliocene - Recent Times

Size: up to 12 ft (3.7 m) long

Fossil Finds: Worldwide - depends on species

The genus Panthera generally consists of the "great cats", that is felids with special organs in the throat that produce a roar.

Panthera leo

Panthera leo (1)

Fossil jaw of extinct lion

Panthera leo atrox (1)

Physical rendering of American Lion

Modern lions are restricted to parts of Africa and the Gir Forest of India. During prehistoric times, lions were one of the most widespread mammals on the planet - living in Europe, Asia, North and South America, as well as Africa. There were many subspecies, including Panthera leo spelaea, the European Cave Lion, which has been depicted clearly in cave paintings. Panthera leo atrox, the American Lion, was one of the largest cats that ever lived; roaming the North American countyside. With a wide distribution, lions probably preyed on a variety of creatures, from deer, antelopes, and cattle, to possibly elephants and rhinos.