Lion King Re-match: Simba versus Scar, the Latter Should Prevail as the True King in Nature?

The Pride

Lions (Panthera leo) are in many ways unique amongst its feline relatives. For one, the lions are social while all other cats are solitary hunters. In that respect, the lions exhibit more semblance toward the wolves and hyenas. However, it is the unique possession of a mane that is of the utmost interest to this post. While Simba’s triumph over Uncle Scar hinted at the dawn of a new era, scientific research seemed inclined toward suggesting otherwise: the darker mane is actually more than a stereotyped representation of an evil uncle, it actually encodes for better genes and stronger fighting capabilities (real life story). Therefore, really, Scar should have won (albeit him still being the evil uncle).

Battle of the Pride

According to Peyton (2005), the mane is indicative of the testosterone level in a lion, which is associated with its level of aggressiveness and possibly superior hunting abilities. Therefore, lions with darker manes are generally shunned by competitor male lions, yet more attractive to the lionesses. Apart from that, longer manes have also been observed to be more shunned by competitors because shorter manes are associated with injuries or losing a battle. Such condition-dependent characteristics provide a useful source of information in the pride’s community, especially in helping with the conservation of energy (full combat is extremely energy-exhausting and is potentially dangerous).

However, it is a crown of torns that the lions don. Darker mane has its own tradeoffs that makes it a difficult and uncomfortable trait to possess- heat stress (Patterson et al., 2006) . Lions rely heavily on breathing and direct radiation from their skin for thermoregulation, and long black mane does the exact opposite. The inability/ineffectiveness to regulate heat has many undesirable implications such as the necessity to reduce food intake.

The intricate balance drawn between the pride and nature calls for more deliberation in our conservation efforts.



“Lion Roaring at Sunset”, by Ben Cartland, Gettyimages, 1 April 2013. URL: (accessed on 1 April 2013)

“Nyenyankulu: March 2012 -(End of an Era) Wildlife Journal” by Inyati. Inyati Game Lodge, 31 March 2013). URL: (accessed on 1 April 2013)

West, Peyton M, 2005. The Lion’s Mane. American Scientist 93. 3: 226-235

Blanchard DC, 2010. Of lion Manes and Human Beards: Some Unusual Effects of the Interaction Between Aggression and Sociality. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 3:45. doi: 10.3389/neuro.08.045.2009

“The End of Mapogo (graphic- not for sensitive viewers).wmv” by SavannaLodge. YouTube Channel, 16 March 2012. Url: (accessed on 1 April 2013)

B. D. Patterson, R. W. Kays, S. M. Kasiki, V. M. Sebestyen, 2006. Developmental Effects of Climate on The Lion’s Mane (Panthera Leo). Journal of Mammalogy, 87 (2): 193-200