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Cultural depictions of lions are known from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in France dated to 17,000 years ago, through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they once occurred.
It has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature.
This population has been listed as Critically Endangered in 2015 and survives in West Africa from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin to Niger and Nigeria.
Male lions are easily recognized by their manes, and the male's face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture.
As these characteristics vary highly between individuals, most of these forms were probably not true subspecies, especially as they were often based upon museum material with "striking, but abnormal" morphological characteristics.
Based on morphology of 58 lion skulls in three European museums, the subspecies krugeri, nubica, persica, and senegalensis were assessed distinct; but bleyenberghi overlapped with senegalensis and krugeri. Early phylogenetic research was focused on lions from eastern and southern parts of Africa, and already showed that they can possibly be divided in two main clades: one to the west of the Great Rift Valley and the other to the east.
The Asiatic lion persica was the most distinctive, and the Cape lion had characteristics allying it more with P. Lions in eastern Kenya are genetically much closer to lions in Southern Africa than to lions in the Aberdare National Park in western Kenya.
In a subsequent study, tissue and bone samples of 32 lion specimens in museums were used.