Comparing tigers and lions is nothing new, even the ancient Romans were curious about which animal is stronger and would regularly pit them against each other and against humans.
Generally, tigers are bigger, longer, and heavier than lions. Tigers can grow up to 10 (or even 13 ft) of length which is 3 (or 3.6) meters while lions grow up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) of length. Tigers are also much heavier and are de facto the largest cat species in the world, and the Amur tiger is the largest subspecies with males weighing up to 660 pounds (300 kilograms) against the largest lion species, the African lion, weighing up to 550 pounds (250 kg).
In reality, though, the average tiger is usually no bigger than an average lion and the lion can even appear bigger because of its superior stance and a majestic mane.
It all depends on which subspecies you’re using, but tigers are larger than lions, even though lions appear larger because they are a bit taller at the shoulders and have magnificent manes.
|90 – 300 kg (200 – 660 lb)
|160 – 225 kg (352 – 496 lb)
|250 – 390 cm (8.2 – 12.8 ft)
|184 – 208 cm (6 – 6.8 ft)
|up to 300 kg (660 lb)
|170 – 230 kg (370 – 500 lb)
|up to 400 cm (13 ft)
|180 – 210 metres (6 – 7 ft)
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Are Tigers Stronger Than Lions?
It is interesting to see all the heated debates all over the internet over which of these big cats would win in a fight.
Although there are numerous documented fights from all over the world between a tiger and a lion, the truth is that sometimes the tiger wins and sometimes the lion wins.
One on one, the tiger would probably defeat a similarly sized lion, although it of course depends on each of the individual’s abilities. Tigers have so much power in their paws that they can reportedly smash the skulls of domestic cattle, and break the backs of sloth bears by swiping at them.
Lions have the advantage of living in groups, so called prides, and they all defend their territory together.
Are Tigers Faster Than Lions?
Although both lions and tigers are really fast, lions are faster than tigers. Lions can run up to 50 mph (80km/h) while tigers can “only” run up to 40 mph (64 km/h). Both of them are considerably faster than the fastest human – Usain Bolt. His top speed was 27.8 mph (44 km/h).
Tigers are capable of taking down larger prey like adult gaur but will also opportunistically eat much smaller prey, such as monkeys, peafowl, and other ground-based birds, hares, porcupines, and even fish. They also prey on other predators, including dogs, leopards, pythons, bears, and crocodiles. They generally do not prey on fully grown adult Asian elephants and Indian rhinos.
Why is there such a difference in speed between the two? Well, they are different kind of hunters. Tigers are solitary hunters that ambush their prey from bushes and for that reason they do not need top speed but acceleration. While lions on the other hand live on more open land and hunt in packs (prides) which requires a higher top speed.
Lions are a social species, forming groups called prides. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females, and cubs. Groups of female lions usually hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates.
Are Tigers Smarter Than Lions?
An University of Oxford study, published in 2009, of big cat skulls has shown that tigers have bigger brains, relative to their body size, than lions, leopards or jaguars.
Even though, on average the lion has a bigger skull than the tiger, the tiger has bigger cranial volume than the lion.
It has largely been assumed that social species, such as lions, should have larger brains than solitary species, such as tigers, because of the need to handle a more complex social life within groups or prides so this finding came as a surprise.
“What we had not expected is that the tiger has clearly much bigger relative brain size than do the other three species, which all have similar relative brain sizes,” said Dr Nobby Yamaguchi of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
Although brain size doesn’t necessarily have to correlate to being smarter, there were many more accounts that I could find that describe tigers as more intelligent than lions or even the most intelligent of all the big cats.
Are Tigers More Dangerous Than Lions?
Tigers are extremely dangerous to humans. The most comprehensive study of deaths due to tiger attacks estimates that at least 373,000 people died after tiger attacks between 1800 and 2009, the majority of these attacks occurring in South and Southeast Asia. On the other side, it is estimated that over 250 people are killed by lions every year.
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A single tiger called the Champawat Tiger has killed an estimated 463 people in Nepal and the Kumaon area of India, during the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century.
Although tigers have killed much more humans than lions, they do not actively enter human habitats to pursue them. You know who does? Lions. Man-eating lions have been recorded to actively enter human villages at night as well as during the day to acquire prey!
Man-eating tigers rarely enter human habitations in order to acquire prey and the majority of victims are reportedly in the tiger’s territory when the attack takes place.
Still, I would argue that because tigers are recorded to have killed more people than any other big cat, and are responsible for more human deaths through direct attack than any other wild mammal makes them much more dangerous to humans than lions!
- Yamaguchi et al. ‘Brain size of the lion (Panthera leo) and the tiger (P. tigris): implications for intrageneric phylogeny, intraspecific differences and the effects of captivity. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009; 98 (1): 85 DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2009.01249.x