European Lion

European Lion

The European lion (Panthera leo spelaea) was a subspecies of lion that prowled the subcontinent of Europe during the Pleistocene “Ice Age” epoch all the way to the 10th century AD in Transcaucasia. They would have been 8-10% bigger than the surviving African subspecies, but not quite as big as the American lions (Panthera leo atrox). Not only would they have terrorized Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon humans during the ice age, but they would earn prominent places in ancient Greek and Roman mythology; Herakles/Hercules for example slew one tough specimen of these known as the Nemean lion.

Many modern reconstructions draw the European lion, as well as its American cousin, as almost maneless based on certain Paleolithic cave paintings, but then classical Greek artwork shows them as having full manes like the African subspecies, so I prefer to think they did have manes and those cave paintings (possibly produced by female artists themselves) were simply showing lionesses on the hunt rather than the males of the species. Besides, a thick mane would make sense in the cooler European climate.

I was experimenting again with a more painter-like, line-free version of digital art with this piece. I’m still inexperienced with that method, but I like to think I’m getting better at it with practice.

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