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Extinct American Lion (Panthera atrox) Fact Sheet: Diseases & Pathology

extinct American Lion (Panthera atrox)

How Do We Know This?

Abnormalities in fossil bones may show evidence of arthritis, cancer, nutritional stress, fractures and more.

Disease and Injury

  • Flattened and reduced incisors in a fossil P. atrox lower jaw from Alaska is perhaps a result of old age (Whitmore & Foster 1967) or is a regional genetic difference from lions further south (Beebe & Hulland 1988)
  • Trauma from fights may have caused bone remodeling seen in two jaw specimens from Alaska (Beebe & Hulland 1988)
  • Tooth breakage (from possible fights with other predators) three times more common than in lions today (Van Valkenburg & Hertel 1993)
  • A P. atrox from natural Trap Cave in Wyoming had extensive abnormal bone growth on its left knee and unusually heavy wear on its canine and incisor teeth (Rothschild & Martin 2003)
    • Probably this animal was forced to scavenge as a result of its disabling pathology.

Page Citations

Beebe and Hulland (1988)
Van Valkenburgh and Hertel (1993)
Whitmore and Foster (1967)

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