Category Archive 'Lions'

20 Apr 2017

First Tsavo Man-Eater, Scientists Find, Had a Toothache

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Colonel Patterson with the first deceased Man-Eater.

Vanderbilt News:

An analysis of the microscopic wear on the teeth of the legendary “man-eating lions of Tsavo” reveals that it wasn’t desperation that drove them to terrorize a railroad camp in Kenya more than a century ago.

“Our results suggest that preying on people was not the lions’ last resort, rather, it was simply the easiest solution to a problem that they confronted,” said Larisa DeSantis, assistant professor of earth and environmental studies at Vanderbilt University.

The study, which she performed with Bruce Patterson, MacArthur Curator of Mammals at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, is described in a paper titled “Dietary behavior of man-eating lions as revealed by dental microwear textures” published online April 19 by the journal Nature: Scientific Reports. …

In order to shed light on the lion’s motivations, DeSantis employed state-of-the-art dental microwear analysis on the teeth of three man-eating lions from the Field Museum’s collection: the two Tsavo lions and a lion from Mfuwe, Zambia that consumed at least six people in 1991. The analysis can provide valuable information about the nature of animal’s diet in the days and weeks before its death.

DeSantis and Patterson undertook the study to investigate the theory that prey shortages may have driven the lions to man eating. At the time, the Tsavo region was in the midst of a two-year drought and a rinderpest epidemic that had ravaged the local wildlife. If the lions were desperate for food and scavenging carcasses, the man-eating lions should have dental microwear similar to hyenas, which routinely chew and digest the bones of their prey.

“Despite contemporary reports of the sound of the lion’s crunching on the bones of their victims at the edge of the camp, the Tsavo lion’s teeth do not show wear patterns consistent with eating bones,” said DeSantis. “In fact, the wear patterns on their teeth are strikingly similar to those of zoo lions that are typically provisioned with soft foods like beef and horsemeat.”

The study provides new support for the proposition that dental disease and injury may play a determining role in turning individual lions into habitual man eaters. The Tsavo lion that did the most man eating, as established through chemical analysis of the lions’ bones and fur in a previous study, had severe dental disease. It had a root-tip abscess in one of its canines—a painful infection at the root of the tooth that would have made normal hunting impossible.

“Lions normally use their jaws to grab prey like zebras and buffalos and suffocate them,” Patterson explained. “This lion would have been challenged to subdue and kill large struggling prey. Humans are so much easier to catch.”

The diseased lion’s partner, on the other hand, had less pronounced injuries to its teeth and jaw—injuries that are fairly common in lions which are not man eaters. According to the same chemical analysis, it consumed a lot more zebras and buffalos, and far fewer people, than its hunting companion.

13 Jan 2017

Visitors in Camp

On Facebook (no embed):

Via John Ndadala Walenga.

22 Jun 2016

Lioness versus Lion Hunting Styles

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26 May 2016

Someone’s Licking Water Off My Tent!

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29 Aug 2015

Tree Full of Lions

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LionTree1
LionTree2
LionTree3

18 Nov 2014

Baby Elephant Attacked by Fourteen Lions

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Filmed at Norman Carr Safaris‘ Chinzombo Camp in Zambia.

07 Nov 2014

Lions Against Porcupine

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17 lions (13 females and 4 males) versus one porcupine. Guess who wins?

Londolozi blog story

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

13 Sep 2014

Best 1930s Craze

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Taking lions for Wall of Death rides in sidecars.

WallofDeath
I think this is Marjorie Kemp with Sultan at Revere, Massachusetts. The motorcycle is probably an Indian Scout. The lion seems to be enjoying it.

Apparently all sorts of people, British and Americans used to do it. People named “Fearless Egbert” and “Tornado Smith.”

io9 story

Liondromes

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

02 Nov 2013

“Anybody Have a Can-Opener?”

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Feeding time at the Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

29 May 2009

Today’s Animal Behaviorist; Tomorrow’s Lunch

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South Africa’s Kevin Richardson is following in the footsteps of such other renowned animal behaviorists as Timothy Treadwell.

2:41 video

Hat tip to Gwynnie.


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