The lion (Panthera leo) is a species of the family Felidae (cats) and belongs to the genus Panthera (big cats). It has a muscular, deep-breasted body, a short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of the tail. It is sexually dimorphic; Adult male lions have a conspicuous mane. With a typical head-to-body length of 184-208 cm (72-82 in), they are larger than females at 160-184 cm (63-72 in). They are a social species that form groups called packs. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females, and cubs. Groups of female lions usually hunt together and usually prey on large ungulates. The Lion is a top and tail predator; Although some lions will flee on occasion and have been known to hunt humans, the species does not normally hunt them.
Typically, the lion inhabits grasslands and savannas, but is not found in dense forests. It is normally diurnal, but when pursued adapts to be active at night and dusk. In the Pleistocene, the lion spread throughout Eurasia, Africa, and North America, but today it is reduced to fragmented populations in sub-Saharan Africa and a critically endangered population in western India. Since 1996, it has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, as populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Lion populations are unsustainable outside of designated protected areas. Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are of greatest concern.
As one of the most recognized animal symbols in human culture, the lion has been depicted extensively in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire and have been a keystone species since the late 18th century, sought for exhibition in zoological gardens around the world. Cultural representations of lions were of great importance in the Upper Paleolithic; Carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet caves in France have been dated to 17,000 years ago, and representations existed in virtually all ancient and medieval cultures that coincided with the lion's past and present range.