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Maned Lioness Displays Both Male and Female Traits

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An African lioness that looks and acts male may be the secret to her pride’s success.

TRANSCRIPT

♪♪ [ LIONS ROARING ]

THE MORE MALES IN A PRIDE, THE BIGGER AN AREA THEY CAN DEFEND.

BUT RIGHT NOW, IN BOTSWANA'S OKAVANGO DELTA, THERE'S AN EXTRAORDINARY LION THAT'S REWRITING THE RULES.

THIS IS MMAMORIRI... A PERFECTLY ORDINARY MALE LION, COMPLETE WITH A CHARACTERISTIC MANE.

RIGHT?

[ RECORD SCRATCHES ] ACTUALLY, NO.

WRONG.

YOU SEE, MMAMORIRI IS A LIONESS.

♪♪ DESPITE APPEARANCES, SHE'S DEFINITELY FEMALE.

♪♪ YET NOT ONLY DOES MMAMORIRI LOOK LIKE A MALE, SHE OFTEN ACTS LIKE ONE.

♪♪ EVEN HER ROAR IS DEEPER AND MORE MASCULINE.

[ MMAMORIRI ROARS HUSKILY ] RIGHT NOW THERE ARE THOUGHT TO BE FIVE OF THESE MANED LIONESSES IN THE OKAVANGO DELTA.

THE DELTA'S SEASONAL FLOODWATERS CREATE A DEGREE OF ISOLATION FOR THESE LIONS FROM OTHER PRIDES IN BOTSWANA.

THEY PROBABLY ALL HAVE THE SAME GENETIC MUTATION WHICH HAS CREATED AN IMBALANCE OF HORMONES.

♪♪ THIS IS MIND-BLOWING STUFF, BUT WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?

WELL, EVEN THOUGH SHE'S TREATED LIKE A LIONESS BY HER OWN PRIDE, SCIENTISTS SUSPECT THAT BECAUSE MMAMORIRI MIMICS A MALE, RIVALS WOULD BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE MORE MALES IN HER PRIDE THAN THERE ACTUALLY ARE.

AND WITH MORE MALES, THE PRIDE CAN DEFEND A LARGER TERRITORY.

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