Late Pleistocene cave lions are one of the most iconic species of Northern Hemisphere Quaternary taphocoenoses. Despite their often-scarce record in cave environments, their ubiquitous distribution across Eurasia and North America assemblages attests to their position as top ice-age predators. Nevertheless, the origins of these former large felids, their distribution during the Middle Pleistocene, and their paleoecology during co-existence with the scimitar-toothed cat Homotherium remain debated. Here we describe for the first time an abundant collection of large-sized and stout felid remains from the recently discovered site of Grotte de la Carrière in Eastern Pyrenees, with an estimated age corresponding to MIS 9. Our results highlight the larger size of Middle Pleistocene lions compared to Late Pleistocene ones as well as a trend of decreasing in size, which has been previously stated by other authors. Grotte de la Carrière steppe lions have similar morphological and biometrical parameters to those of other samples from MIS 11–9, being larger and stouter than younger latest Middle Pleistocene-Late Pleistocene forms and slightly smaller than older MIS 15–12 forms.
- Panthera fossilis