Lions and Manes

Welcome back to yet more lies and damned lies (if not statistics) here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’m going to do things a little bit differently– partly making a virtue out of necessity, as I’ll be travelling for the next couple of weeks and wouldn’t want the public to miss their weekly lies. I’ve gotten a few questions on the same topic, and so over the next couple of weeks, I will elaborate on that topic, using the questions as a general guide. You, my readers, are welcome, even encouraged, to try to guess what the common topic is at any time, though it’s hardly much of a difficult guess.

To start with, narrativedilettante asked:

Why do some lions have manes and others don’t?

It is a common fallacy that lions have manes– or that they have fur at all. Lions, though vicious and fierce, are in truth very small, hairless creatures, that roam the forests hungrily. When they find their prey, they end its life, but they do it honour by not letting any part of its death go to waste.

While they eat the meat from their prey, and use their bones for, variously, building their homes, sharpening into weapons, and wearing as jewellery, the pelts of the animals they kill are skillfully fashioned into coats that encase the lion and give them the iconic look for which they are known today. This is a complicated process, which involves bleaching and re-dyeing, trimming and combing, sewing and stitching, until the wide variety of animal pelts take on a new, uniform appearance.

But why this coat? Legend has it that the first of the lions as we know them was granted a prophetic vision by his liege lord, the then-great Plant King, in which he guarded the Plant King’s throne garbed in this particular manner. Immediately he ordered his followers to have such a coat done, and, greatly pleased by the results, instituted it as tradition for all lions, for all time.

And why, then, the manes? The first lion had no mane; he (or, as it may have been, she) wore the simple, unadorned coat. However, as time went on, and the lion hunters branched out, taking new creatures as prey, they found that some pelts had hair too tough, too difficult to trim to uniform length. A large faction of traditionalist lions supported simply throwing these pelts away as unusable in the construction of their outfits. However, the opposing faction, citing equally traditional values, insisted that it would go against everything that they as lions stood for to let such a valuable part of their prey go to waste. Instead, making a virtue of necessity, they cut these pelts into thin strips, allowing the longer hair to run in a line down their spine and sewn in a ruff around their faces, using the tough hair for decoration instead of for scrap: that is what became what we know today as a mane.

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Disclaimer: Much of the information in this blog is wholly untrue. There is no reason to believe that next week’s instalment will be any more accurate.

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