Information about Lions

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Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from all Felidae species indicate that their evolutionary radiation began in Asia in the Miocene around 14. 45 to 8. 38 million years ago to 16. 76 to 6. 46 million years ago. The Panthera lineage is estimated to have genetically diverged from the common ancestor of the Felidae around 9. 32 to 4. 47 million years ago to 11. 75 to 0. 97 million years ago. The geographic origin of the Panthera is most likely northern Central Asia. Results of analyses differ in the phylogenetic relationship of the lion; it was thought to form a sister group with the jaguar (P. onca) that diverged 3. 46 to 1. 22 million years ago, but also with the leopard (P. pardus) that diverged 3. 1 to 1. 95 million years ago to 4. 32 to 0. 02 million years ago. Hybridisation between lion and snow leopard (P. uncia) ancestors possibly continued until about 2. 1 million years ago. The lion-leopard clade was distributed in the Asian and African Palearctic since at least the early Pliocene. The earliest fossils recognisable as lions were found at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and are estimated to be up to 2 million years old.