Caturday Felid- spotted lions

by Greg Mayer

Spotted lions, semi-mythical beasts and the subject of cryptozoological inquiry, have been discussed here at WEIT before, but the spotted lions here are not mythical at all, because they are cubs.

Badu and Zuka, born April 16, 2010 at the Racine Zoo.

Lion cubs, as we’ve also discussed before here at WEIT, are born spotted, and retain some spots for up to two years or so, but eventually lose them as they mature. The controversy about spotted lions is whether adult spotted lions (only a single individual has ever been collected) form a distinct species or subspecies, or just a (very) rare pattern variation. There’s a bit of a controversy about the cubs’ spotting as well– Jerry, agreeing with the foremost student of animal coloration, Hugh B. Cott, thinks the spots are atavistic, while I think they are likely adaptively concealing.

These two cubs, Badu and Zuka, were born April 16, 2010 at the Racine (Wisconsin) Zoo. They are the younger siblings of lions that were Caturday felids last year. In the next photo, you can also see the spotting on the hindquarters and tail.

Badu and Zuka, born April 16, 2010 at the Racine Zoo.

7 Comments

  1. Insightful Ape
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Anyone remembering the Lion King?

    “I practically gave those cubs trap for you and you couldn’t even dispose of them”.

  2. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    “the spots are atavistic”

    ‘Cause it is important to spot the lion before the lion spots you.

  3. justsearching
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    You scientists are soul-less. How could you argue about animals as cute as those?

    • Insightful Ape
      Posted June 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Understanding the underlying science does not take away from the beauty of nature. If anything it makes it more amazing.
      For further information check a book titled “Unweaving the Rainbow” by Richard Dawkins.
      As for being soul-less, I sure am, but so are you. There are no such things as souls. It is an illusion.

      • justsearching
        Posted June 7, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

        Agreed.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted June 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Oh, now you are just pulling our minds.

      But as an aside, it is interesting to note in this example how the religious mind pulls a double whammy on thought processes. Not only is a discussion about an abstracted fact, evolution, not possible; but the unrestrained agent detector makes the discussion not about cub traits but about cubs.

      The same abstaining of understanding is of course part of what underlies the perception that a _critical_ discussion about religion is a personal attack. (Since criticism uses abstract thought.)

      It is twice removed from observation, thrice if you count the underlying dualistic idea. Not bad for a delusion!

  4. Barry
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I’m late to this; so I’ll just combine my comment with my favorite movie entry. Which is: The Ghost and the Darkness, about the man eating lions of Tsavo. And because of the movie, I also got the book; The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by J. H. Patterson, 1907 – and republished in 1986. And by the way, Dr. Coyne, those lions I understand are now in Chicago, and mounted on display at the Field Museum, so you can go look at the two nasty things that killed over 100 people.


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