Why Do Male Lions Have Manes?

February 14, 2024

When it comes to lions, the males’ thick manes are a prominent feature that set them apart from females. But why do they have manes? Do all lions have them?

Like many other apes, lions are sexually dimorphic; they have different body features for males and females. The lion’s mane, which starts growing at puberty, is the result of sexual selection. It is thought that it makes a male more attractive to females during courtship and that it helps him fend off rivals for the attention of a female.

One theory is that a lion’s mane protects the neck area from bites and blows during hunting and fighting. This would only be a useful function, however, if the mane covered the whole neck and head. Since lions typically attack each other on the flanks and rear, protecting the neck region would be irrelevant. Furthermore, a lion’s ability to defend himself is more closely related to the strength of his jaws than his mane size and density.

Another reason for a lion’s mane might be that it marks him as an adult male. This would be especially important in a species that is socially monogamous, such as the lion. A lion’s mane could help distinguish him from younger males, making it easier for a pride to recognize him and his dominance over the pride’s territory.

The lion’s mane also functions as an indicator of health and potency. A mane that is dark and full can help a male fend off competitors by making him appear larger and more powerful. This can benefit a male’s territorial prospects and ensure that his rivals avoid attacking him on the head and shoulders, where he has the least defence.


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