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The Ghost and the Darkness Were Their Names

Maneless Man-eaters


A century ago, two male lions terrorized railway crews near Tsavo, Kenya, killing and eating at least 28 workers and dozens of local residents before they were shot by railway engineer J.H. Patterson. The lion skins lay as trophy rugs until 1924, when Patterson came to lecture at The Field Museum, and sold the lions’ hides and skeletons to the institution for display. The man-eaters story was dramatically retold in the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness, titled after the names given to the two lions.


Today, biologist Bruce Patterson (no relation to J.H. Patterson) and his colleagues study the Tsavo lions (Panthera leo) to find out why adult males in Tsavo often lack manes.


The skins came to the museum severely damaged, so these models are far smaller than the what was their real size.


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Taken on April 4, 2007