A bizarre lioness that exhibits male features lives with its pride in Okavango Delta, Botswana. The “genderfluid” lioness named Mmamoriri was featured in the BBC documentary, “The World’s Sneakiest Animals.” She has grown a mane and roars like a male lion.
According to Unilad, this is an advantage for Mmamoriri’s pride, which lives in the Mombo area of the southern African safari. Her masculine traits help her defend their territory from trespassing males, in addition to her strongly developed hunting skills.
Lionesses are responsible for hunting for the whole pride and Mmamoriri’s male characteristics scores her further points in becoming an exceptional predator. The strange lioness, which was first discovered in 2012, could protect her pride by tricking intruders with her mane and roar. Further, masculine females could ensure their pride’s survival even when it’s in its most vulnerable time when the alpha male dies.
Mmamoriri isn’t the only “genderfluid” lioness in the area, though. According to Luke Hunter, president of the big-cat conservation group Panthera, this phenomenon may result from the disruption of embryos during conception or fetal period.
“If the former case, the genetic contribution of the sperm which determines the sex of the fetus in most mammals was probably aberrant, giving rise to a female with some male characteristics,” Hunter told National Geographic in October 2012. “Alternatively and perhaps more likely, the problem may have occurred during gestation if the fetus was exposed to increased levels of androgens male hormones such as testosterone.”
“It would be interesting to know if she behaved like a male,” Mr. Hunter added. “Two similarly aberrant Serengeti lionesses were outwardly female they did not have manes, but were almost male-sized, and they challenged and fought unfamiliar males for territories as though they were males!”
Mmamoriri appeared in the Christmas episode of BBC’s “The World’s Sneakiest Animals.”