Walking With Wikis
On this snowscape, a lion might seem out of place, but they are common in Europe at this time and a baby Mammoth in trouble is just the sort of thing to get this Cave Lion out of his den.

Walking with Beasts: Mammoth Journey


The cave lion is an extinct subspecies of lion that lived during the Pleistocene epoch in Europe.


Physical characteristics

The cave lions were related to the modern species, but not to other extinct cats, such as Dinofelis and Smilodon. At 1.5 meters high at the shoulders and at 4 meters in length, it was larger than modern lions of

Cave Lion vs Mother Woolly mammoth over the calf

today and slightly bigger than modern tigers. 

Cave paintings show that some of these these lions also lacked manes like the eastern subspecies of the modern beasts, but some African and Asian male lions also lack manes (or have smaller than expected), suggesting a closer DNA relationship between the 3 species. Unlike the modern lions, however, cave lions also had thick fur, like the modern Siberian tigers, especially in winter.

Behavior and Traits

One of the top predators of the Ice Age, cave lions were the biggest species of cats that ever lived. These cats may have been out of reach at that time, but they were common in Europe during the Ice Age.

In the series

Walking with Beasts

Mammoth Journey

Two cave lions letting a male woolly mammoth go by. (Mammoth Journey)

A cave lion is first seen stalking a woolly mammoth mother and calf, waiting for the mother to slip her guard of her calf. However, the cave lion was unsuccessful and eventually gave up, even though the pair of mammoths had completely lost their herd at that time.

Two cave lions were later seen feeding on the carcass of a Cro-Magnon. As a male woolly mammoth went by, the lions were submissive and let him pass without a fight.