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Were modern lions ever native to Iberia?

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Offline cxrc

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« on: March 12, 2008, 18:49 PM »
I was reading on Wikipedia that the European lion (which may or may not be a sub-species of the Persian lion) was native to Iberia and lived there as recently as the 1st Century. Is there any evidence of this? I'm usually a little skeptical about some things that I read on Wikipedia.

Offline John C

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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2008, 19:34 PM »
According to 'The History of British Mammals' (Poyser) Lions survived through the last glaciation in southern France & northern Spain.  Apparently it's estimated that they were present in what is now the Netherlands 10,000 BP and there's classical evidence that they survived into historical times in Greece,


Offline nick

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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2008, 23:10 PM »
I've got some info on this which I will dig out in the next couple of days. As far I remember lions were extinct in Iberia by historical times - however, that does not mean that African/Asian captive lions were not released by the Romans or escaped. I have read a reference (will search for) lions living wild in Spain in the Middle Ages - again these would be releases for hunting or escapees.
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Offline steveT

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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2008, 23:09 PM »
Just spotted this ..... this is a really interesting question......Nick we discussed this some time ago....didn't we?

Logically they should have been part of the Iberian fauna, as they are documented as far west as in Macedonia in Classical times and there is some evidence I believe that they were also present around the Black sea through to Bulgaria. Hence they were adapted to Meditteranean and deciduous forest environments ..... so they should have made their way into the Italian and Iberian penninsulas.....but there is scant evidence for this. There is a bone fragment of a modern lion found in NE Spain dated 9000bp if I remember correctly .... but the researchers were not completely 100% convinced it wasn't cave lion ..... this is information I remember reading some time ago so I can't remember the exact details.

The interesting part of this if they were not present ..... why not ..... what was the barriers to colonising these niches ....ie Italy and Iberia .....as they had colonised the Balkan penninsula. Also why didn't leopards and tigers move into western Europe/Iberia too .....they moved into the deciduous areas of Asia eg Korea to the Armur area for example, at the end of the last glaciation.

Don't forget there was the Atlas Lion that died out last century ...... it lived in the Mahgreb area .... very similar habitat to Spain ..... proof Spain had prime lion habitat at some point in its recent past.

I once ask this question to a researcher into lion distribution/dna  ..... he beleived if lions were present in very early classical times in Iberia that human pressure could have still been great enough in those times to wipe out them out.
I'm not an expert but I'm not so sure ..... it's a really interesting .....


Offline Jesus Contreras

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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2008, 01:05 AM »
More further in the time  when the Mediterranean fell nearly dry, hyaenas passed also from Africa (Hyaena brunnea) and lived in Iberia. Their fossil carcasses have been found in the lakes that existid in that time at what today is the Guadix bassin (Granada).


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