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Even the remaining seven subspecies might be too many. Mitochondrial variation in living African lions seemed to be modest according to some newer studies; therefore, all sub-Saharan lions have sometimes been considered a single subspecies. Southern Europe: (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) West Asia: (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Baluchistan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mesopotamia, North Caucasus, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen) South Asia: (Afghanistan, India and Pakistan) Formerly found in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, this is the nominate lion subspecies from North Africa. Because these characteristics are very insignificant and show a high individual variability, most of these forms were probably not true subspecies, especially as they were often based upon zoo material of unknown origin that may have had "striking, but abnormal" morphological characteristics. persica) as a subspecies is generally accepted, the systematic relationships among African lions are still not completely resolved. Nonetheless, they might carry genes that are extinct in the wild, and might be therefore important to maintain overall genetic variability of the lion.

These findings might be explained by a late Pleistocene extinction event of lions in western and central Africa, and a subsequent recolonisation of these parts from Asia. leo) to the subspecies Panthera leo leo, and the lions inhabiting Southern (P. Besides the Senegal lion of Western and Central Africa, it is more closely related to the Asiatic lion than to other African lions.

According to this study, West-Central African lions are more closely related to North African and Asian lions than to Southern or Eastern African lions. with reported lengths of 3.0–3.3 m (9.8–10.8 ft) and weights of more than 200 kg (440 lb) for males.

However, a recent study revealed lions from western and central Africa differ genetically from lions of southern or eastern Africa. It is extinct in the wild due to excessive hunting; the last, known Barbary lion in the wilderness was killed in Morocco in 1920.

Traditionally, 12 recent subspecies of lion were recognised, distinguished by mane appearance, size, and distribution. Approximately 77% of the captive lions registered by the International Species Information System are of unknown origin.

Lions died out in northern Eurasia at the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago; this may have been secondary to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna. nubica) to the subspecies Panthera leo melanochaita. The majority of lions kept in zoos are hybrids of different subspecies.

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