These are the points of view regarding this
1. USA-UK scientists seem to be obsessed with
the lion issue and normally discard any study that show that these cats are not
lions. However, when we read them papers, they are always ambiguous in the
conclusions. Russian scientists, on the other hand, don’t hesitate in
classified all Pleistocene “lions” as a different species on they own.
2. These cats are not lions at all, genetically
and morphologically speaking, but they closest relative is the modern lion,
although they are a different branch of the evolution since about 600,000 years
Take in count that even with the modern lion,
the subspecies issue is a mess, what can we expect from a group of animals that
are dead since thousands of years???
In the future I will follow this evolutionary
tree, which is based in both morphological and mtDNA studies:
Lion “clade” - Subgenus Panthera:
1. Panthera onca (jaguar):
* Panthera onca gombaszoegensis - Europe (Pleistocene).
* Panthera onca augusta - North America (Pleistocene).
* Panthera onca mesembrina - South America (Pleistocene).
* Panthera onca onca -
All modern population, no subspecies.
2. Panthera pardus (leopard):
* Several modern and prehistoric subspecies.
3. Panthera leo (lion):
* Panthera leo leo - Asia, Barbary and West -Central Africa.
* Panthera leo melanochaita - Two clades: East and Southern Africa.
* Panthera leo persica - Indian lion, ONLY for conservation purposes.
4. Panthera spelaea (steppe “lion”):
* Panthera spelaea fossilis - Europe (Cromerian, middle Pleistocene).
* Panthera spelaea spelaea - Eurasia and Beringia (Late Pleistocene).
* Panthera (spelaea) atrox - North America.
Tiger “clade” - subgenus Tigris:
1. Panthera (Uncia) uncia (Snow leopard):
* No distinct subspecies (as far I know).
2. Panthera tigris (tiger):
* Panthera tigris tigris - mainland population.
* Panthera tigris sondaica - island population.
* Panthera tigris sumatrae (tigris x sondaica) - Sumatran island.
* Four other Pleistocene
1. Panthera blytheae - Central Asia.
2. Panthera paleosinensis - East Asia.
3. Panthera (onca) toscana
4. Panthera zdanskyi -
This is the best that I can do for the moment,
been unbiased and using all the available published documents on this issue.
Sadly, sometimes, scientists do what they do
but they do it following a preconception. They are very prepared persons
(like any professional), I know because I have been honored to work with two
Biologist in my country in a little project, but it seems that modern science
is looking the way of old religions, they are practically closed to new ideas;
if we see some modern documents, they only copy-paste old statements, without
making at least a slight review on they accuracy.
However, like I stated before, but Burger et
al. (2004) and Barnett et al. (2009) leave the species-subspecies
issues open to debate, although Burger’s team at least, is more or less clear
in they believe that cave lions were strongly related with lions.
If we read the documents of Russian scientists
like Dr Barishnikov or Stefaniak, for example, they already classified all the
cave “lions” in they own different species, which I believe will be the correct
issue. I mean, even the document of Merriam & Stock from 1932 already
classified Panthera atrox like a different animal and presented several
evidences that show that it was related with both lions and jaguar.
This case is the same than with the old
records, like peter said, some modern scientists like to discard old studies
without any proper discussion of disqualification and make the mistake to give
vague results with only leave to “ideological” battles between amateur
investigators like us.