Stories of the black lion have been rumored from all around the world. And several images of black lions have been floating around web. Is there a chance for black lions to exist?
Recently, two amazing black lion images have been circulating on the internet. Why they attracted such interest is that according to mainstream zoology, this animal simply doesn’t exist. If it did, this lion would most probably be melanistic animal, analogous if not homologous genetically with black panther (melanistic leopard) and mutant all-black animals of other felid species.
Many cat species have the melanism gene, a development of the dark pigment melanin in their skin, but lions are not thought to be one of these cat species. But the fact that there’s no documented evidence of a black lion, in some strange manner a huge interest sparks among people who think that black lions are real.
Melanism is a rare congenital condition that increases the amount of dark pigment (or melanin), naturally present in organism. In most life forms, including microorganisms, is present certain amount of melanin. An abnormal decreasing in the amount of melanin normally present in animal’s body, results in the opposite condition, albinism.
Among the animals in which melanism has been observed are leopards, squirrels and wolves. An interesting bit of related trivia is that as many people think the term “black panther” doesn’t refer to a distinct species of big cat, but rather to panthers (in Central and South America) and melanistic leopards (in Africa and Asia).
A partly black lion was born at Glasgow (Scotland) zoo, but it was infertile. Its color was probably due to somatic mosaicism (abnormal skin cells). This lion had a pitch black patch extending across the chest and length of the inside front leg. Somatic mosaicism causes some parts of skin to develop abnormal pigmentation. This anomaly may occur in domestic cats and accounts for some males of the few fertile tortoiseshell cats.
Media reports emanating from South Africa in 2008 carried strange stories of big black lions that had apparently escaped from the Kruger National Park and were seen roaming the streets of Matsulu township near the Mpumalanga capital, scared people who claimed that they were too afraid to walk outside during the night.
No hard evidence for their presence was produced, but even if lions were genuinely on the prowl there, they may well have simply been dark brown ones, or normal lions that had rolled in black mud.
But what about real black lions? What do we know of such black-furred enigmas? As already said, no confirmed sightings exist and just a few sparse, unconfirmed reports. There are black cats in existence like black panthers, which could have been easily mistaken for lions by some readers.
Dr. Karl Shuker, zoologist, found the origin of some dubious black lion images circulating on the internet and revealed this image hoax. True black lions are probably just a fantasy. Sadly for those, hoping that these two images therefore represented some major cryptozoological discovery, the reality is that they are nothing more than Photoshopped images.