Illustrators through an anthropomorphic bent have played castle up as nature’s crown on her liked king the the beasts, and also Charles Darwin posited the they basically served as furry helmets, but what is a lion’s mane really for?

Male lions start to grow manes about the age of 2 years, which signal the beginning of sexual maturity.

You are watching: What is the purpose of the mane on a male lion

…which could sound nice, however for young male lions, that a mixed blessing; the appearance of a mane is the pride’s cue to absent a lion out. In bespeak to join a brand-new pride, the young lions have actually to basically take the over, daunting the present dominant masculine for his position.

Coincidentally, a unique filled-out mane might aid that procedure along.

One of the key (mane?) features of the hairy toppers is intimidation. Imagine a cat that’s simply been startled; it arches its back, puffs increase its tail, and also sticks that is hair ~ above end. Lion manes serve a similar duty as this usual cat behavior; the size and density of the mane can assist a lion show up larger, and therefore an ext threatening, warning away possible opponents.

That intimidating illustration ties into the second role of the mane: a prize of health and potency. A lion would certainly be wise to save its street from another lion with specifically thick, lush mane, no only because it puffs him increase in the neck and also chest region, but because its really existence suggests serious power.

*

This young male lion’s mane is just staring to grow in Photo: Thomson Safaris guests, bill Kurtz & Kathy Aalfs

Darker, fuller manes indicate a healthy and balanced lion through plenty of testosterone. This provides him catnip come the ladies, but additionally tells potential rivals to beware; the won’t ago down native a fight. Mane size is also a signal to other lions of fighting success (presumably manes room damaged in this challenges).

Black manes are possibly the most telling status-symbol; manes darken with age, and also thick dark hair suggests a well-fed lion. That way a black-maned lion is most likely in his prime, eat well, and getting lot of of lovin’ from the ladies. That would desire to mess with that?

Well, nature, for one.

See more: Why Public Speakers And Novelists Can Both Use, Speaking Engagements For Authors: Tips & Tricks

Black manes may make a lion watch suave, however they also make him overheat under the non-saw equatorial sun. Global warming just makes the sun more brutal, and some researchers predict that very soon, black color manes might be a thing of the past. The warm might also thin the lions’ hair. Pets in north zoos often flourish thicker manes than their wild counterparts, which researchers posit is at the very least partly due to the cooler climate.