Lionesses - Taxonomy and Evolution - Hybrids


Further information: Panthera hybrid, Liger, and Tiglon

Lions have been known to breed with tigers (most often the Siberian and Bengal subspecies) to create hybrids called ligers and tiglons (or tigons). They also have been crossed with leopards to produce leopons, and jaguars to produce jaglions. The marozi is reputedly a spotted lion or a naturally occurring leopon, while the Congolese spotted lion is a complex lion-jaguar-leopard hybrid called a lijagulep. Such hybrids were once commonly bred in zoos, but this is now discouraged due to the emphasis on conserving species and subspecies. Hybrids are still bred in private menageries and in zoos in China.

The liger is a cross between a male lion and a tigress. Because the growth-inhibiting gene from the female tiger is absent, a growth-promoting gene is passed on by the male lion, the resulting ligers grow far larger than either parent. They share physical and behavioural qualities of both parent species (spots and stripes on a sandy background). Male ligers are sterile, but female ligers are often fertile. Males have about a 50% chance of having a mane, but if they grow them, their manes will be modest: around 50% the size of a pure lion mane. Ligers are typically 3.0 to 3.7 m (10 to 12 feet) in length, and can weigh 360 to 450 kg (800 to 1,000 pounds). The less common tiglon or tigon is a cross between a lioness and a male tiger. In contrast to ligers, tigons are often relatively small in comparison to their parents, because of reciprocal gene effects.

Read more about this topic:  Lionesses, Taxonomy and Evolution

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