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Wild Animals/Hi. Question about ancient lions in North America



I was wondering if you know about the lions that once existed, primarily in North America around the time of the last Ice Age. I have read and am interested in the lions that supposedly were here in North America. I know about the Saber toothed tigers but there were also supposedly lions as well that were exactly like the lions in Africa. I am wondering if you know why those went extinct? To me the answers seem very very vague. If the native americans hunted the large herbivores to extinction, I still don't buy that we don't see large lions in North America. I know they are very adaptable they could easily survive on large prey like deer, buffalo, elk. Maybe they would not be quite as large anymore, but they wouldn't go extinct.
I know that in mexico you have the Jaguar and in south america you have the Jaguar. The jaguar in south america is larger because the prey it kills is larger, but that doesn't mean that the jaguar in Mexico is extinct because it doesn't have large prey. It is smaller but the same species. Why didn't the same happen in North America with the lion that supposedly existed?


Dear Mark

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used. and Karen Curley ( say that North American lions became extinct around 13,000=10,000 years ago along with mammoths and many other large mammals., Karen Curley (, C.R. Harrington ( and say this was  probably due to a combination of:

1. Dramatic climate change during the Quaternary extinction event (, which wiped out many of the American lion's prey species (, although Karen Curley ( studies suggest that the lions had enough food to eat right up until their extinction.  
2. Ecosystem disruption by Palaeolithic humans. Lion bones have been found in the trash heaps of Palaeolithic American Indians, suggesting that humans killed lions for food (

The information above indicates that the Quaternary extinction killed off many large mammal species. This included the large mammals preyed on by the American lion. I would surmise that the population of lions fell and that this may have brought the lions into contact with humans. This happens with many predators if their natural prey is reduced. Hunting by Palaeolithic American Indians led to the extinction of the lions. The American lion was larger than the modern lion and, even if it had become a bit smaller, there would not have been enough large species for it to hunt to avoid competition with smaller predators that would have been better adapted to hunt smaller prey species.

I hope this helps.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

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BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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