What would happen if a lion fought a tiger?

Illustration for article titled What would happen if a lion fought a tiger?

We've always been speculating about battles between superheroes. We know the outcome of octopus versus shark. At last we have an expert speculating on lion versus tiger. Which one would win?

Since there's a good chance you've spent the weekend slowly tearing apart a ritualistically slaughtered bird, before going out and trampling your fellow citizens in arenas, you probably won't be too horrified by speculating on the outcome of animal fights. After all, the fights in question are, for the most part, in the past. Romans used to pit lions against tigers for entertainment. Today, they are kept apart, but there have been a few incidents during which lions and tigers in zoos or private collections have accidentally been put in the same room.


While we don't approve of fighting animals for sport, there's a difference between approval and curiosity. Thankfully there are experts who can answer the question. Craig Saffoe, a curator of big cats, told Life's Little Mysteries that he would bet on the tiger. Larger tigers weigh in at about the same weight of lions, but don't have the same social contact. They're less likely to engage in play-fighting, or sparring, and more likely to kill.

It looks like history backs him up, with historical accounts of animal fighting recording that the tiger came out on top. Still, in modern encounters, there was some variation based on the temperament and experience of each of the animals.

[Via Life's Little Mysteries.]

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Tigers are actually the largest cats, they generally get bigger than lions. That said, they don't often fight one another but lions fight each other all the time. Male lions also have their thick mane to protect their throat, making it much harder for the tiger to get in a kill shot. Therefore, if it were males I'd vote for the lion, if they were females, the tiger.