Why do lions have manes? © Getty

Why do lions have manes?

The big cats' luscious locks are attractive to females, indicating sexual and physical strength.

Asked by: Erin Beach, Loch Ness

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At the onset of sexual maturity, male lions will start to grow thick manes around their head, neck and underbelly. The hormone testosterone is responsible for this process – interestingly, neutered males usually lose their manes entirely. Studies have shown that females are attracted to bigger, darker manes, so it seems that manes are a signal of sexual fitness.

Lions often live in open savannah habitats, so it’s particularly beneficial to have evolved a visual method of communicating strength and status. Manes also provide added protection from injury when males fight with one other.

Do big cats have retractable claws? © Getty Images
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