This is the modern (not fossilised) skull of an African lion (Panthera leo leo) Lions are one of the four large cats that belong to the Genus Panthera. Lions are increasinly threatened both in Africa and in Asia due to pressure from rising human populations encroaching on their natural habitats.
The lion evolved between 1 and 0.8 million years ago in Africa and spread north appearing in Europe around 0.7 million years ago. Lions became extinct in northern Europe some 10000 years ago at the end of the last glacial period.
Adult male lions can weigh up to 250 kilograms and the adult males are bigger than the females. Other species of Panthera include the leopard, tiger and the jaguar.