This Pinocchio-Like Trait Means No Lyin’ Lions

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Everyone knows the story of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet created by a Tuscan carver named Geppetto. He dreams of being a real boy, gets swallowed by a whale, as a cricket consciousness, and, perhaps his most well-known trait, has a knows that grows when and if he tells a lie. As it turns out, Pinocchio’s nose isn’t the only one capable of revealing the truth. Want to know how old a lion is? The nose knows.

When a lion is born, it has a pink nose. Think Simba in The Lion King! As the years go by, black dots begin to appear.

But see, these dots…

they grow…

and grow

and GROW


The entire nose becomes black.

Perhaps best and most useful of all is that these spots and dots simply continue growing once they’ve first appeared. This means you could use their nose patterns to identify individuals and track them over time!

Of course, knowing the nose isn’t the only way of aging a lion. There are several more key characteristics you could observe: mane growth, battle scars, stain and wear of teeth, and sometimes even the sag of their lips. Scientists never being the type to rely on one variable carefully observe a combination of all these traits, as well as some more technical approaches, to make their determinations.

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The Wild Life was created in January of 2017 by, me, Devon Bowker (He/They) after finishing my degree in wildlife biology. It’s been amazing to see how things have changed over the past 5 years, both personally and here. I have tons of ideas and projects in the works and cannot wait to share them with you. Whether you’re a long-time follower or new to The Wild Life, thank you for being here.

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