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Terminator 2

The lion is the king of the jungle

The lion is not the king of the jungle

Sorry Leo

Who's the King of the Jungle?

Everyone knows its the lion, right? Not so fast. The lion's natural habitat is large sweeping grassland savannas, not a jungle which is where you'd more likely encounter a tiger or leopard, etc.

It seems the majestic appearance of the male lion's flowing mane, resembling a crown, has created the image he rules all, but even in battle that's not particularly true. Other large felines such as tigers are larger, smarter and faster.

Dr Nobby Yamaguchi, of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, has been studying the relative intelligence of the large felines:

When we compare the two biggest species, on average the lion has a bigger skull than the tiger based on the greatest length of the skull. However, the tiger has bigger cranial volume than the lion. It is truly amazing that tiny female Balinese tiger skulls have cranial volumes as large as those of huge male southern African lion skulls.


The idea the lion is the king of the jungle probably comes from the way the lion has no natural predators. In other words, it's the king of everywhere. In India the phrase is actually more accurate, since it is "the king of the wild". In Hindi, the word for jungle means "not an inhabited place" - this naturally covers dense forests as well as the vast plains.