Lions, Tigers, and Tigons | The Institute for Creation Research

Lions, Tigers, and Tigons

In December 2011, a lioness at Yancheng Safari Park of Changzhou in China gave birth to twin tigons,1 and the Associated Press recently released footage of the young cats in their pen.2 Tigons, or tiglons, are the rare products of tiger fathers and lioness mothers. Tigers are larger cats than lions, leading to more difficulties in pregnancy and birth with tigons than with ligers. Unfortunately, one of the featured tigons died soon after birth.

Tigons and ligers, as well as all cat varieties, are most easily explained in the Bible’s historical context.

In short, lions and tigers can interbreed because they both descended from an ancestral cat family. Scientists place different cats on a continuum of interbreeding varieties. For example, house cats can interbreed with small feral and other wild cats. They descended from the African wild cat.3 Small wild cats have, in turn, interbred with larger wild cats. Leopards and panthers can interbreed. All of this breeding potential clearly shows that different cats are varieties within the same basic cat kind.

This is exactly what one would expect from the early Genesis record. Creatures were designed to reproduce "after their kind." Creatures were also designed to "multiply and fill" ever-changing environments. In the process of filling the post-Flood world, the cats on board the Ark rapidly diversified into the varieties known today, as well as extinct varieties like the saber-toothed cat.

And this all happened recently. If evolutionary time were true, then many more cat varieties probably would have lost the ability to interbreed after so many years in reproductive isolation. Instead, because the cats have only been isolated from one another for thousands and not millions of years, some cat varieties retain potential to interbreed when brought near to one another.

After reviewing cat hybridizations, fossil cat skeletons, molecular sequence data, fur color patterns, and cat-specific viruses, one recent article concluded, "It is reasonable to assume that all felids [cat] arose from a single founder species and that they have passed through one or more adaptive radiations, exploiting their inherent morphogenetic potential to produce all of the known extant and extinct species of cat."4

Just as in dogs and in people, there is a tremendous potential for trait variation among cats. And just like dogs and people, cats have always been cats—whether they are ligers, tigons, or tabbies.

References

  1. Tigon debuts in E China wildlife park. China Daily. Posted on chinadaily.com.cn February 29, 2012, accessed August 6, 2012. 
  2. Meliker, S. Lioness in china Gives Birth to Rare Tigon Cubs. VetStreet. Posted on vetstreet.com March 1, 2012, accessed August 6, 2012.
  3. The African wild cat is scientifically named Felis lybica. Its ancestral relationship to modern domestic cats is inferred from DNA sequence similarity studies, for example, Driscoll, C.A. et al. 2007. The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication. Science. 317 (5837): 519-523.
  4. Pendragon, B. and N. Winkler. 2011. The family of cats—delineation of the feline basic type. Journal of Creation. 25 (2): 118-123.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on September 12, 2012.

The Latest
NEWS
Did Our Middle Ear Evolve from Fish Gills?
A recent SciTechDaily article begins by saying, “Embryonic and fossil evidence proves that the human middle ear evolved from the spiracle of fishes”1...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Can Scripture Be Trusted? | Creation.Live Podcast: Episode 8
Both believers and skeptics can find themselves asking if Scripture can be taken at its word. Is it scientifically accurate? Can its history be trusted?...

NEWS
Cambrian Soft Tissue Defies Evolution
Paleontologists have discovered “early fossils [of] simple hollow tubes ranging from a few millimetres to many centimetres in length.”1...

NEWS
Fruit Fly Jitters
Researchers working with fruit flies–the ubiquitous lab animal–have discovered the flies are able to undergo an amazing ocular process called...

CREATION PODCAST
Can Radioisotope Dating Be Trusted? | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
Carbon dating is a common method used to determine the ages of fossils and other materials, but carbon14 deteriorates quite quickly. How can it still...

NEWS
Prepare for the Big Non-Event!
In 1950 the famed Italian physicist Enrico Fermi asked his coworkers at the lunch table the simple metaphysical question in regard to possible aliens...

NEWS
Move Toward the Enemy: Fighting for Truth in Science
Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the...

NEWS
Evolving Mammals?
The evolution of mammals from non-mammals, like the evolution of all other animal groups, has been, and will always be, problematic. English paleontologist...

NEWS
Butterfly Variation
Butterflies have made science news again, this time in regard to a master gene called WntA: “a combined team of researchers from Cornell University...

CREATION PODCAST
How Old Is The Universe? | The Creation Podcast: Episode 35
Many scientists claim that the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old by reverse-engineering the Big Bang with the assumption that this theory...