The lion is the second largest feline after the tiger.
With powerful legs, a strong jaw, and 8 cm (3.1 in) long
canine teeth, the lion can bring down and kill large prey.
Lion coloration varies from light buff to yellowish,
reddish or dark ochraceous brown. The underparts are
generally lighter and the tail tuft is black. Lion cubs
are born with brown rosettes (spots) on their body, rather
like those of a leopard. Although these fade as lions
reach adulthood, faint spots can still often be seen on
the legs and underparts, particularly on lionesses.
Lions are the only members of
the cat family to display obvious sexual dimorphism—that is,
males and females look distinctly different, as a consequence
of the specialized roles that each play in the pride. For
instance, the lioness, as the hunter, lacks the male's heavy
mane, which would impede her ability to camouflage when
stalking the prey. The color of the male's mane varies from
blond to black, generally becoming darker as the lion grows
older. Weights for adult lions generally lie between 150–241
kg (330–530 lb) for males, and 123–182 kg (270–400 lb) for
females. Nowell and Jackson report average weights of 181 kg
for males and 126 kg for females; one male shot near Mount
Kenya was weighed at 272 kg (600 lb). Head and body length is
170–250 cm (5 ft 7 in – 8 ft 2 in) in males and 140–175 cm (4
ft 7 in – 5 ft 9 in) in females; shoulder height is about 123
cm (4 ft) in males and 100 cm (3 ft 3 in) in females. The tail
length is 70–100 cm (2 ft 3 in – 3 ft 3 in).