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The American lion or Panthera atrox is an extinct pantherine cat that lived in North America during the Pleistocene epoch about 340,000 to 11,000 years ago. Blancan Pleistocene, 100,000 years ago. American Falls, Idaho. Its fossils have been excavated from Alaska to Mexico.
The American lion is estimated to have measured 5 ft. 3 in. to 8 ft. 2 in. from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and stood 3.9 ft. at the shoulder.
About 80 American lion individuals have been recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, so their morphology is well known. It was estimated to weigh up to 930 lb.
Their features strongly resemble those of modern lions, but they were considerably larger, and are believed to have been the largest species of lion.
Preserved skin remains found with skeletal material thought to be from the American lion or Panthera atrox in caves in the Argentine Patagonia indicate that the animal was reddish in color.
Cave paintings from El Ceibo in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina seem to confirm this, and reduce the possibility of confusion with fossil jaguars, as similar cave paintings accurately depict the jaguar as yellow in color.
American lion or Panthera atrox inhabited savannas and grasslands like the modern lion. In some areas of their range, they lived under cold climatic conditions.
They probably used caves for shelter from the cold weather in those areas, and might have lined their dens with grass or leaves, as the modern Siberian tiger does.
The American lion or Panthera atrox went extinct along with most of the Pleistocene megafauna during the Quaternary extinction event.
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