Why do li­ons have manes?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q & A - ERIN BEACH,

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.

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