The liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. It is
therefore a member of genus taxonomic group containing one or more species.
It looks like a giant lion with diffused tiger stripes. Like tigers
(and unlike lions), ligers like swimming.
A cross between a male tiger and a female lion is called a tigon.
Known ligers exist due to human influence, either by deliberate human
intervention, or by humans putting lions and tigers in enclosed spaces
together. In natural conditions tigers and lions generally do not inhabit
the same territory - the two species coexist in the wild today only
in the Gir,a collection of mountains in India.
Even where they do coexist, there have been no confirmed reports of
interbreeding, though there are long-standing claims that this has happened.
Ligers grow much larger than tigers or lions and it is believed this
is because female lions transmit a growth-inhibiting gene a segment
of DNA that is involved in producing a polypeptide chain; it can include
regions preceding and following the coding DNA as well as introns between
the exons; it is considered a unit of heredity to their descendants
to balance the growth-promoting gene transmitted by male lions (this
gene is due to competitive mating strategies in lions). Being the offspring
of a male lion and female tiger, the liger inherits the growth-promoting
gene, but does not have the growth-inhibiting gene and typically grows
larger than either animal; this is called Growth dysplasia. Some male
ligers grow sparse manes.
Male ligers are sterile. Female ligers are often
fertile and can be mated to a tiger resulting in ti-liger offspring
or to a lion resulting in li-liger offspring.