Marozi: A lion and leopard hybrid?

Marozi - Page 1: Evidence Of A New Species | 2: Theories | 3: Examination Of The Specimens |
4: Cryptozoological Artwork

Lion and leopard hybridisation:

This has been one of two main theories on the origin of the Marozi. Though a popular idea it seems distinctly unlikely.

For a start, we know that hybrid offspring are primarily sterile, especially the males. This is nature's way of preventing species becoming genetically polluted. To prevent the marozi dying out would require reasonably frequent matings between various lions and leopards -- or all the rules of hybridisation would need to be broken and both male and female offspring of a few initial matings would have to be fertile.

Genetically successful matings between the two species are quite possible, as seen from the lijagulep (lion x leopard/jaguar hybrid) image at the top of this page. But this was a captive breeding and hybridisation among big cats is unheard of in the wild. Even in captivity it is extremely rare.

These two cats live quite differently, with one being quite happy to live its life arboreally while the other is a terrestrial cat. One lives a solitary life, except for times of mating, whereas the other is a pride animal (and the only cat that is). Behavioural differences and geographic barriers all go towards preventing the species interacting. On the odd occasions they do cross paths, leopards will prey on lion cubs. However, in support of this idea leopons do appear similar to the marozi, both in size and coat pattern.

An aberration:

The second theory concludes that the marozi is simply an aberration, similar to the situation with the white lion of Tambavati. Inbreeding and recessive genes can produce unusual colourations.

    • Inbreeding often results in melanism.
    • White tigers are caused through recessive genes.

    All lion cubs have spots and on occasion these remain in evidence on the pelage, even at maturity.  This is particularly true of lionesses.

But this does not explain why the marozi reports seem to be restricted to high forested elevations as against flat open plains where lion prides are usually located.

Other marozi theories:

The possibility exists that this is an as yet undiscovered lion subspecies. This is not so unlikely and has happened before with many animals. Species like the okapi and the Komodo dragon are relatively recent discoveries.

Skeptics have theorised that the marzoi sightings were simply tricks of the light, or native stories with little or no basis in fact. Perhaps natives made the stories up in an effort to please their visitors?

The skeptics may outwitted by the physical proof which is stored at the Natural History Museum in London. Their collection contains a skin from one of the Michael Trent lions shot in 1931 and a possible skull belonging to one of the cats.

Marozi - Page 1: Evidence Of A New Species | 2: Theories | 3: Examination Of The Specimens |
4: Cryptozoological Artwork

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Photography With Thanks To Art Slack (Photo 2)
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