In the animal kingdom, only a select few are graced with the magnificent adornment known as a mane. This long, thick, coarse hair, typically found around the neck and head, is not just a symbol of sexual maturity but also a testament to overall health. While lions may be the poster animals for manes, they’re not the sole contenders. Various creatures worldwide boast this majestic feature.
Manes aren’t just about aesthetics; they serve vital functions, too. They can offer protection, regulate body temperature, and facilitate communication within social groups. These unique attributes have evolved to help these animals thrive in the wild and enhance their allure to potential mates. Join us on a journey to explore nine captivating animals with manes and uncover the untold stories behind nature’s crown wearers.
9 Amazing Animals With Manes
1. Male Lions (Panthera leo)
lion by Pixabay
Lions are probably one of the first animals you think about when listing animals with manes. However, only male lions have manes that start growing when they’re around 1 year old. Their mane length and color reveal a lot about a lion’s health.
For example, longer, darker manes indicate high fighting success, genetic precondition, and testosterone production. Females also choose lions with longer manes.
The mane is also a protective feature when lions fight against other lions. Males will fight each other over females and when trying to take over the pride. These apex predators are native to the grasslands, savanna, and open woodland of Africa.
Scientists believe that it’s closely connected to testosterone levels. A fuller mane is a sign of a healthier animal. Male lions grow impressive manes with ages, up to 16cm long, and signify dominance. The older they become, the darker their manes go. Female lions prefer males with more developed manes.
2. Wild Horses (Equus ferus)
Wild Horses by Pixabay
While domestic horses are commonplace, wild horse populations still thrive in certain U.S. states within designated Herd Management Areas (HMAs) like California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. These wild horses sport impressively long and coarse manes, distinguishing them from their zebra counterparts.
The purpose of these wild horse manes extends beyond aesthetics. They serve as a natural defense mechanism, protecting against both insects and potential predators. Although they offer some insulation in cold weather, it’s not as robust as a thick fur coat. Interestingly, this distinctive feature is not exclusive to the wild; domesticated horses also boast manes, a testament to their enduring legacy in the equine world.
3. Zebras (Hippotigris)
Zebras by Pixabay
Recognized for their striking black and white stripes, zebras possess a unique feature setting them apart from other equids: the short, upright, and stiff hairs on the back of their necks. These distinctive manes are not exclusive to a particular gender or age group and serve a vital defensive purpose.
In the wilds of southern, central, and east African grasslands and savanna woodlands, zebras rely on these upright manes for protection. They act as a barrier against neck bites from predators, allowing the zebra to swing its head effectively in defense. The choice of having a mane on the top of their neck rather than all around is strategic, ensuring they don’t overheat during their swift runs across the savannas.
These manes, like the zebra’s stripes, showcase the fascinating adaptations that have evolved to help these animals thrive in their unique environments.
4. Lion-tailed Macaques (Macaca silenus)
Lion-tailed Macaques by Pixabay
The lion-tailed macaque, known for its striking name, is more than just its unique lion-like tail tuft; it also sports a distinctive silver-white mane. With hair that surrounds their head, cheeks, and chin, they’ve earned the charming nickname “beard apes.”
These intriguing monkeys are native to the Western Ghats of South India and are characterized by their shy and solitary arboreal nature, rarely venturing beyond their lush rainforest habitat. While they may resemble the kings of the savanna, these old-world monkeys are mostly dark in color, with a gray mane that’s common in both males and females. Remarkably, lion-tailed macaques start growing their manes when they are just two months old.
Interestingly, their name “Lion-tailed” isn’t solely due to their manes but also stems from another striking similarity—a tuft at the tip of their tail, reminiscent of a lion’s regal appendage.
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5. Giraffes (Giraffa)
Giraffes by Pixabay
Reaching towering heights of up to 18 feet, giraffes have necks that stretch as long as 6 feet, making them the world’s tallest living animals.. These gentle giants, native to Africa’s dry savannahs, are known for their unique manes that run alongside their entire necks, though they serve a different purpose than you might think.
While the short, erect hairs on the upper edge of their necks don’t protect them from insects or predators, the giraffe’s mane is believed to play a role in mating. Longer and thicker manes are thought to make males more attractive to potential mates.
Despite their immense size, giraffes are not equipped to defend against predators using their manes. Instead, they rely on their incredibly long necks and powerful swings of their heads to deter threats. With no natural predators capable of climbing and biting their necks, these remarkable creatures have evolved their unique defense strategies in the wild.
6. Sable Antelopes (Hippotragus niger)
Sable Antelopes by Pixabay
The sable antelope, yet another antelope species boasting manes, stands out with its unique feature – two manes. Alongside the traditional neck mane that resembles that of Roan antelopes, sable antelopes also possess a shorter mane on their throat. These striking animals, predominantly black, sport majestic long horns that can reach up to an impressive 5.2 feet in length, rivaling the size of an elephant’s tusk. Notably, both males and females of this species develop both manes and horns, with their backward-arching horns lending them a distinctive appearance.
While the purpose of the throat mane is protection against throat bites, it is largely unsuccessful in achieving this goal. Nevertheless, sable antelopes remain a fascinating species with their double manes and remarkable backward-curving horns, adding to the rich tapestry of Africa’s diverse wildlife.
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7. Maned Wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus)
Maned wolf by Pixabay
The maned wolf, despite its resemblance to foxes and wolves, is a unique creature in its own right. Its name is derived from the striking black mane that adorns its shoulders and runs along its neck. This distinctive feature serves a crucial function – when the maned wolf senses danger, its mane erects, creating a formidable appearance.
Native to the open landscapes of central and eastern South America, these creatures stand at around 3 feet in height and weigh approximately 50 pounds. Maned wolves are notable for their potent-smelling feces and urine, which carry a skunk-like odor, often used to mark their territory.
What earns the maned wolf a place on our list is its remarkable black mane, which it employs to appear more prominent and to deter potential predators. In South America, this unique animal shares certain similarities with foxes, displaying a brown coat with occasional white patches, particularly on the tail, and the distinctive black mane that adds to its captivating allure.
8. Roan Antelopes (Hippotragus equinus)
Roan Antelopes by Pixabay
Short, erect manes that run from the back of their necks to their shoulder blades are boasted by Roan antelopes. In comparison to zebra manes, Roan antelopes’ manes are longer, providing enhanced protection against potential predator bites. These animals typically sport brown coats with black and white faces, and their manes can vary in shades of brown, grey, or black. As one of the largest African antelope species, they can grow to an impressive weight of up to 620 pounds. This unique combination of features makes Roan antelopes a notable and robust presence in the African wildlife landscape.
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9. Domesticated and Wild Bactrian Camels (Camelus bactrianus and Camelus ferus)
Domesticated and Wild Bactrian Camels by Pixabay
Impressive 10-inch manes are sported by both Domesticated and Wild Bactrian Camels, closely related species, potentially unmatched by lions. However, Wild Bactrian camels, critically endangered, tend to have shorter manes than their domestic counterparts. These neck manes serve dual purposes—keeping them warm in harsh Mongolian winters and offering protection against predators. These camels are also famed for their dual humps, storing fat for prolonged periods without food or water, showcasing remarkable adaptations to their environment.
In the diverse tapestry of the animal kingdom, manes emerge as both a striking and functional feature, serving various purposes for different species. From the majestic lions of Africa to the unique maned wolves of South America, these animals showcase the beauty and adaptability of nature. Whether it’s for protection, attraction, or insulation, manes play a crucial role in the survival and beauty of these remarkable creatures. As we explore the world of animals with manes, we gain a deeper appreciation for the wonders of our natural world and the fascinating adaptations that have evolved to ensure their place within it.
1. Why do lions have manes?
Lions have manes primarily for protection and as a sign of their health and vitality. A full, dark mane indicates a lion’s strength and fitness, making it more attractive to potential mates. Additionally, the mane offers some protection to the neck during fights with other lions.
2. Are manes only found on male lions?
Yes, manes are primarily found in male lions. Female lions do not have manes, and the presence of a mane is one of the key visual distinctions between male and female lions.
3. Do female animals have manes?
No, in most species with manes, females do not have them. Manes are typically a male feature and serve purposes such as attracting mates or providing protection.
4. Which animal has a mane around its head?
Lions are one of the animals with a mane that extends around their head and neck. This distinctive feature is often associated with male lions and plays a role in their mating rituals and social hierarchy.
5. Do all animals with manes use them for protection?
While some animals with manes use them for protection against predators, others, like lions and giraffes, use them primarily for mating displays and attracting potential mates. The purpose of manes can vary among species.
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