The lion you’re looking at is NOT a male lion — despite its fluffy mane and generally male appearance.
She, is a lioness in Botswana named Mmamoriri. She’s one of five lionesses scientists have recorded that have adapted male characteristics believed to be connected to an increase in male hormones.
via New Now Next:
As for the evolutionary benefit, presenting as male could help Mmamoriri defend herself and her cubs from invading prides.
“If they can increase their territory because of this then it would really improve her pride’s survival chances,” says naturalist Chris Packham. “This mutation could even be the start of a new devious lion strategy.”
The animal world is full of creatures that cross the gender divide: Sometimes its a mutation—like male deer who don’t grow antlers and are able to stealthily mate with females—and sometimes it’s a factory feature, like male seahorses giving birth to their young.