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Ancient DNA analysis indicates the first English lions originated from North Africa

Ancient DNA analysis indicates the first English lions originated from North Africa

Ross Barnett, Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, Beth Shapiro, Richard Sabin

Contributions to Zoology, 77 (1) 7-16 (2008)      

Abstract

The Royal Menagerie of England was established at the Tower of London in the 13th Century and served as a home of exotic animals until it was closed on behalf of the Duke of Wellington in 1835. Two well-preserved lion skulls recovered from the moat of the Tower of London were recently radiocarbon-dated to AD 1280-1385 and AD 1420-1480, making them the earliest confrmed lion remains in the British Isles since the extinction of the Pleistocene cave lion. Using ancient DNA techniques and cranio-morphometric analysis, we identify the source of these first English lions to lie in North Africa, where no natural lion population remains today.

Click here to read this article from Contributions to Zoology

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