Friday, May 11, 2007
The liger, while not a true mutation, is a cross (hybrid) between a male lion and a female tiger making it a member of genus Panthera. It looks like a giant lion with diffused stripes. A cross between a male tiger and a female lion is called a Tigon.
Known ligers exist due to human influence, either by deliberate human intervention, or by humans putting lions and tigers in enclosed spaces together. In natural conditions tigers and lions generally do not inhabit the same territory. There have been no confirmed reports of natural interbreeding, though there are historic claims that this has happened.
Ligers grow much larger than tigers or lions and it is believed this is because female lions transmit a growth-inhibiting gene to their descendants to balance the growth-promoting gene transmitted by male lions. The hormonal hypothesis is that the cause of the male Liger's growth is his sterility - essentially, the male liger remains in the pre-pubertal growth phase. This is not quite upheld by behavioral evidence - regardless of all being sterile, many male ligers become sexually mature and mate with females.
In addition, female ligers also attain great size but are fertile.As female ligers are fertile and can be mated to a tiger resulting in ti-liger offspring or to a lion resulting in li-liger offspring. A behavioral research program in the USA has bred a female ti-liger called Lady Kali; at 2 years old she weighed 400 lbs.Ligers have a tiger-like striping pattern on a lion-like tawny background. In addition they may inherit rosettes from the lion parent. These markings may be black, dark brown or sandy. The background color may be correspondingly tawny, sandy or golden.